MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Thursday directed all local government units to refrain from announcing the brand of vaccines to be used in a particular vaccination center to prevent mass gatherings.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the halt on announcements of COVID-19 vaccine brands is based on the recommendation of the Department of Health. This, after thousands of residents flocked to vaccination sites offering Pfizer vaccines.
"Maybe one of the strategies that can be made is, hindi na ia-announce kung anong bakuna ang ibibigay. So kung gusto ninyong magpabakuna, pumunta kayo sa ganitong facility, at kung anong bakunang available, yun ang dapat kunin nila," Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said in an earlier interview.
Former government task force adviser Dr. Tony Leachon also backed the move, saying mass gatherings could become super spreader events.
Año explained that while LGUs will not be allowed to announce the vaccine brand, the individual scheduled for vaccination will still be informed of the vaccine brand on-site.
“The person will be informed of the brand in the vaccination center and he will have to give his informed consent but if he refuses, he will have to go back to the back of the line,” he said in a statement.
All FDA-approved vaccines have gone through a stringent approval process and are therefore safe and efficacious, he added.
"The best vaccine is the one that is available; therefore in order to overcome brand preference, LGUs should not announce the brand of vaccine to be used in vaccination centers,” he said.
In a separate statement following the announcement, the DOH said the education process for individuals who would be vaccinated would still be present to ensure consent.
Those who already received their first vaccine dose, meanwhile, will receive the same brand for their second dose, the agency assured the public.
As of Tuesday, the government was able to administer 3.3 million Filipinos since it started rolling out its vaccination program in March.