MANILA — A senator on Friday urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to provide full coverage for Filipinos who would develop side effects after COVID-19 vaccination, saying this would boost vaccine confidence in the country.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, during a Senate inquiry on the country’s vaccination program, said such preparations would add a safety net for vaccination acceptance in the country, which continues to be skeptical about vaccines, based on recent surveys.
“Kung libre ang bakuna, libre din dapat ang pagpapagamot ng anumang adverse side effect nito. Saklaw rin dapat ng universal health insurance ang pagpapabakuna, para wala na talagang dahilan hindi magpabakuna,” Villanueva said.
(If vaccines will be free, then the treatment for adverse side effects should also be free and covered by the universal health insurance. This will ensure that people will not have any reason to reject the vaccination.)
Health chief Francisco Duque III told the senator that PhilHealth would study the proposal.
Shouldering the treatment for any issues post-vaccination, he said, would “cover all the bases needed for [a] successful vaccination plan.”
“Ang inaaalala natin, kung may mga allergy, halimbawa, at respiratory distress ang manifestation nito, baka i-charge po ito doon sa existing case rates na may ceiling, at lalabas pa na may out-of-pocket expense ang nabakunahan,” he pointed out.
(What we are worried about is those people who will get allergies, respiratory distress, and they will be charged on the existing rates that has ceiling, and Filipinos will shell out money for this.)
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“We need this ‘comfort guarantee’ from the government to encourage people to get vaccine jabs . . . Kung patuloy na may pag-aalinlangan ang ating mamamayan, sigurado pong marami ang hindi magpapaturok,” he added.
(If people are hesitant, nobody will avail of the vaccine shots.)
A Pulse Asia survey late last year showed that nearly half of Filipinos said they would not get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19.
Dr. Lulu Bravo, executive director of Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, said conducting a massive information campaign would be critical in building vaccine confidence in the country.
In late 2017, the government stopped its nationwide dengue vaccination program and pulled Dengvaxia off the market after drug maker Sanofi warned that the vaccine might cause severe symptoms if given to those who did not have prior exposure to the mosquito-borne disease.