Vergeire asks Congress to immediately amend COVID-19 vaccination law

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2022 08:29 PM

Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire speaks to residents during the ceremonial vaccination, as part of the observance of World Immunization Week, at the Sto. Niño Health Center, Marikina City, April 27, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire speaks to residents during the ceremonial vaccination, as part of the observance of World Immunization Week, at the Sto. Niño Health Center, Marikina City, April 27, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News


MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday appealed to senators to immediately amend Republic Act 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 that limits the vaccination program during a state of calamity.

The state of calamity in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic will be effective until September this year, based on the proclamation of former President Rodrigo Duterte. 

In her brief message at the DOH’s “PinasLakas” COVID-19 vaccination program at the Senate, DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed the need for the legislators’ immediate action to amend RA 11525.

“Dahil pag ni-lift ang state of calamity, the provisions of this law will be invalid already. At dito po nakataya ang mga EUA (Emergency Use Authority) ng ating bakuna, nakataya ang ating mga tax exemptions para po sa mga assistance na nakukuha natin," Vergeire said.

"Nakataya din po dito at nakatali ang emergency procurement na atin pong nagagawa because of the pandemic. And nakatali din po dito ang pag-control natin ng presyo ng iba't ibang commodities because of the pandemic,” he added.

“So ito po ay isa sa sa mga sinusulong ng Kagawaran ng Kalusugan. At sana po ay makapagtulong-tulong tayo so that we can be able to amend this law."

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who led the opening of the DOH-sponsored vaccination program, said Vergeire’s appeal will be included in the Senate Health committee’s agenda on Monday.

The panel is set to investigate the DOH’s readiness in combatting COVID-19, monkeypox and dengue.

Zubiri said he has yet to check if President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is amenable to extending the national calamity declaration.

The Senate leader meantime stressed on the need to amend the law to give the DOH leeway in amending its guidelines.

The public, Zubiri said, should now be allowed to buy the vaccine in drugstores.

It is also time to give the unused or expiring vaccines to the general population, he added.

At least 71.8 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Aug. 5, the DOH has said. Of the total figure, 16.4 million have received an additional dose, while 1.4 million have received a second booster.

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