MANILA - A public health expert on Tuesday slammed presidential spokesperson Harry Roque's remarks as "unfair" that Filipinos cannot pick which brand of vaccine they would receive for free against COVID-19.
"That's a very unfair statement coming from the spokesperson because to me it is enshrined in the Constitution that health is a basic right and it is about wellness," Dr. Tony Leachon told ANC's
Matters of Fact".
"We deserve to be choosy because we need to find the right vaccine for us based on efficacy and safety."
Leachon, former adviser of the national coronavirus task force, reminded President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman that the government works for the people and not the other way around.
"The government works for the people. I think the government should actually follow that particular aspect of looking for the right vaccine," he said.
A Pulse Asia survey conducted last year showed that nearly half or 47 percent of Filipinos would not get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 due to safety concern.
"And if there's safety concern, you need to heed the call of the customer, as well as the people, that you need to provide the right [and] the efficacious vaccine," Leachon said.
On Monday, Roque said Filipinos cannot choose the brand of COVID-19 vaccine that they would get from the national government.
"Totoo po, meron tayong lahat na karapatan para sa mabuting kalusugan pero hindi naman po puwede na pihikan dahil napakaraming Pilipino na dapat turukan," he had said.
(It is true [that] we all have a right to good health but one cannot be choosy because there are many Filipinos who need to be vaccinated.)
To date, the Philippine government has secured vaccine supply deals with China's Sinovac, British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India.