MANILA - The Commission on Higher Education denied Monday that allowing universities and colleges to procure COVID-19 vaccines for students and faculty is a form of discrimination.
"Many" universities inquiring about buying COVID-19 vaccines have been referred to the office of Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, CHEd chairman Prospero de Vera said.
The commission will meet with health experts this week on the vaccination of students "to see what is the best approach and way to do it," he added.
"Please don’t worry that we are trying to discriminate against certain students or certain institutions. It is just that certain institutions want to do it earlier and this is allowed for private companies to procure their own vaccine for their employees and in this case for their students and faculty," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Many of these universities are connected with big companies and I think they're planning to procure it in connection with the purchases of these big companies. We leave it to their negotiations with government and their procurement. We’re not involved in the procurement itself."
De Vera said "many" faculty members of universities were vaccinated as majority belong to the A1 (health workers) to A3 (persons with comorbidities) categories.
The CHEd was also successful in lobbying for the inclusion of skeletal workforce in higher education institutions in the essential workers (A4) category, he added.
"It’s not really going to worsen or exacerbate a divide between haves and have nots because everyone is going to get their vaccine eventually because it is free, it is provided by government. We just have to look at it in the whole vaccination priority of government," he said.