Some senators hit unauthorized COVID-19 vaccination of soldiers, officials

Robie de Guzman   •   December 29, 2020   •   560

MANILA, Philippines – Some senators have questioned the prioritization of some members of the military and government officials in the vaccination against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) sans the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Senator Francis Pangilinan said the advance inoculation of these individuals is a reflection of the government’s unclear program on vaccination rollout.

“Akala ko ba mga medical frontliners at yung mga seniors at mas nasa peligrong kalagayan ng kalusugan ang uunahin?” Pangilinan said in a message to reporters

“Lumalabas na nagkanya-kanya ang mga nasa administrasyon sa pagbabakuna at nag-uunahan pa bago pa man maaprubahan ng FDA ang paggamit ng mga bakuna na ito sa bansa. Inunahan na ba ng Malakanyang ang FDA sa pagtiyak na ligtas nga ba ang mga bakuna na ito?” he added.

For Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, the immunization of some military personnel using an unregistered COVID-19 vaccine will not help in developing public confidence.

“Public confidence is critical to the successful inoculation f our people. Confidence is developed by adhering to a science-based process and the opinion of our vaccine expert panel,” Drilon said in a separate message.

“The inoculation using vaccines not approved by our FDA will not contribute to the need to develop public confidence that the government program will succeed,” he added.

For Senator Imee Marcos, the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination should be done fairly and should prioritize those belonging to sectors vulnerable to the viral disease.

Senate President Vicente Sotto, however, said he sees nothing wrong with the vaccination among soldiers and some government officials as there is no law that prevents Filipinos from taking a vaccine that has yet to be approved by the country’s regulators.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong about that. There is no law that says you cannot take any medicine or vaccine that FDA has not approved,” he said in a message.

Over the weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte disclosed that many Filipinos have already received a COVID-19 vaccine from China even if regulators have yet to approve any vaccine for local use.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and other military officials have confirmed on Monday that some soldiers, including those assigned in the Presidential Security Group, have been administered with COVID-19 vaccine. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

More than 1,200 BI frontliners to get COVID-19 vaccine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday announced it will roll out the COVID-19 vaccination for its frontline workers this weekend.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said they are looking to inoculate a total of 1,250 immigration personnel starting this April 24 to 25.

Immigration personnel eligible for vaccination will receive government-procured Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab, which will be administered in two doses in an interval of 28 days.

A pre-screening will be conducted on the medical history of the officers to determine those who are eligible to receive the vaccine.

“We have scheduled vaccination of our eligible employees on a weekend so as not to hamper our daily operations,” Morente said.

Adhering to the priority list given by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the BI will start vaccinating employees who are senior citizens and persons with co-morbidities.

“The continuous rise of COVID-19 cases accentuates the need to vaccinate our frontliners, especially those belonging in the most vulnerable group such as the seniors and persons with co-morbidities. We want to assure their safety from the threat of the deadly virus,” Morente shared.

BI Deputy Commissioner and Chairperson of the bureau’s COVID-19 Task Force Aldwin Alegre said that despite vaccine rollout among immigration officers, they will continue to implement basic health protocols such as wearing face masks and face shields, maintaining physical distancing, and checking body temperatures.

“Our frontliners are one of the most exposed and have a high risk of contracting the highly transmissible virus. As such, we will continue to make sure that all health protocols are being followed,” Alegre said.

“I am confident that as our officers get their jabs, we will be able to carry out our mandate better and with less worry,” he added.

The BI has so far recorded 300 COVID-19 infections among its personnel.

DOH’s Duque gets vaccinated vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III received his first dose of a vaccine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Friday.

Duque was inoculated around 10 a.m. with CoronaVac dose made by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech. Health Undersecretary Geraldo Bayugo administered the vaccine.

Duque, 64, is a senior citizen that belongs to A2 category of the government’s COVID-19 priority list.

“As I receive my dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today, I invite everyone to do the same, and choose to be protected,” Duque was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the DOH.

“Let us all take part in protecting public health, and let us be in unison in spreading one message: that vaccines are safe, and vaccines are effective,” he added.

Duque also stressed that the government is doing everything it can to secure sufficient vaccine supply to cover 70 million Filipinos.

The DOH chief’s vaccination follows the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration to use CoronaVac on senior citizens amid a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccine supply, which is used to inoculate the elderly.


PH receives 500K more Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Thursday received another shipment of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech.

Around 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines purchased by the government arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at past 5 p.m. It arrived via a Philippines Airlines flight.

The shipment brings the COVID-19 shots so far delivered to the country to more than 3,525,600, comprised of CoronaVac and AstraZeneca.

This is part of the commitment of Sinovac Biotech to deliver 1.5 million vaccine doses this month. The other 500,000 doses were shipped last April 11.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that about 100,000 of these vaccines will be deployed to Metro Manila and its administration will be completed within the week.

Galvez also said that another 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines will be delivered on April 29.


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