MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday clarified that local government units cannot directly purchase COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use. However, they can partner with the DOH for immunization of priority sectors.
This as various Metro Manila LGUs have allotted funds for COVID-19 vaccination of their constituents.
“Yung emergency use authority (EUA) na ibibigay ng Food and Drug Administration dito sa mga manufacturers ng bakuna, ang pwede pa lang bumili n'yan, ang national government kasi EUA pa lang sya,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained during a virtual briefing.
(For the emergency use authority that will be given by the Food and Drug Administration to vaccine manufacturers, only the national government can buy their vaccines because they are still under EUA.)
The EUA is meant to expedite the approval and roll-out of developmental COVID-19 vaccines because of the pandemic. Otherwise, the vaccines will have to undergo a 4th clinical trial phase instead of only 3 that is being approved across the world.
In the Philippines, the FDA is currently evaluating the EUA application of Pfizer.
Vergeire said that the vaccines will only be available to the market if it receives a certificate of product registration under the regular process.
“By saying that, ang (the) local government ay hinihikayat ng (is urging the) national government to work with us because we can pool the funds and the national government can procure and we can have an effective distribution system,” she said.
She said working together would result in more unified efforts while preventing “technicalities.” She said it would also allow the DOH to monitor the rollout of vaccines nationwide.
“The national immunization program rests on the mandate of the Departnment of Health. So, hopefully the local governments will work with us,” Vergeire reminded the LGUs.
“We can assure the local governments that based on the prioritization list, kasama po kayo lahat dito sa ating listahan (all are included in our list),” she said, referring to the specified priority sectors such as frontliners, senior citizens and indigents.
Malacanang also welcomed the initiative of the LGUs but reminded them as well that all transactions will pass through vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez.