Senator wants COVID-19 vaccine priority list put into law

DRY RUN. Philippine General Hospital personnel take part in a dry run for Covid-19 vaccination on Thursday (Feb. 11, 2021). This is part of efforts of the state-owned hospital to assure that accurate processes will be observed during the vaccine rollout. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Feb 15 (Mabuhay) — The Philippines should put into law guidelines for the prioritization of its COVID-19 vaccination program as a safeguard against politics, a lawmaker said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday reiterated that the prioritization should be put into law to ensure that the guidelines are strictly followed and that those that are most vulnerable are given precedence.

“Sa batas na gagawin, aking ilalagay ‘yung guidelines for the prioritization of the vaccine adminsitration. Ilalagay natin ‘yung guidelines para mabawasan ang opportunity to play politics,” Drilon said.

“Wala akong sinasabing may namumulitika na ngunit mabuti na lagyan natin ng guidelines. Katulad ng dapat bigyan ng preference yung frontliners, senior citizens, yung mga mahihirap lalo na yung nasa 4Ps, yung economic workers natin o yung mga kababayan na involved sa pagpapasigla ng ekonomiya,” he added.

Malacanang earlier this month released the list of specific priority groups for vaccination against COVID-19, with frontline healthcare workers at the top of the list, followed by senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.

At present only Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca have secured the emergency use authority (EUA) in the Philippines, with supplies expected in the first quarter of the year.

However, President Rodrigo Duterte in December said several Filipinos — including members of the military, particularly the Presidential Security Group — received COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm even without approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Indemnification

Meanwhile, Drilon said Congress was open to passing a measure that would indemnify COVID-19 vaccines from possible side effects given the immediate need for such medicines.

“Isa sa pinag—uusapan yung tinatawag nating indemnification at payag naman ang kongreso na sagutin ng pamahalaan ito dahilan sa hinihingi ito ng mga manufacturers na kailangan wala silang liability. Ito ay dahilan sa hindi pa naman fully licensed ito kaso dahil sa pandemic kailangan na. Payag naman po ang kongreso na magkaroon na sasagutin ang indemnification kung anuman ang danyos o yung mga side effects dahil sa bakuna,” he said.

Another way was to put a free and harmless clause that would dictate that the national government will hold the manufacturers free and harmless from any claim.

“Ang sinasabi ng manufacturers ay sige idi-distribute naming dahil ito’y kailangan ngunit ayaw naming sagutin yung possible responsibilities from this vaccination. Iyan naman ay payag ang Kongreso diyan kung iyan ang kailangan,” he said.  (MNS)

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