MANILA—Filipinos signing up in different cities to get a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine, labeled as “vaccine hoppers”, have been criticized as being “immoral” by vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr.
“Vaccine hopping is illegal,” Galvez said in a statement Saturday.
“Lahat ng bakuna ay itinuturing nating ginto at hindi ito basta-bastang sinasayang dahil ang gusto natin ay lahat ng Pilipino ay mabakunahan
(COVID-19 vaccines are considered gold. This should not be wasted because we want all Filipinos to be immunized.)
The official, also the chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the government would go after offenders.
"Napakahirap na ’yung mga kababayan nating nasa far-flung areas at mga nasa [geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas] ay hindi pa nagkakakroon ng first dose tapos sila (vaccine hoppers) may third dose or boosters na," said Galvez.
(Some Filipinos in far-flung areas have yet to receive their first doses, while these vaccine hoppers already have a third dose or booster.)
"Unahin muna natin ’yung mga areas at mga tao na wala pang first dose."
(Let us prioritize giving a first dose to everyone.)
On Thursday, ABS-CBN News reported on an alleged double vaccination scheme posted by a man on social media after he was supposedly fully vaccinated by Sinovac in Mandaluyong last May then got another shot of Moderna earlier this week in Quezon City.
He said he got "boostered" and thanked the people who helped him.
The Quezon City government on Friday said it has started filing charges against 2 individuals who reportedly received booster shots.
Earlier in the day, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said booster shots remained prohibited in the country due to limited COVID-19 supplies and the lack of safety validity for now.
In July, San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora acknowledged he was vaccinated against COVID-19 four times and two of the jabs he used were “bootleg”
Earlier this week, Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said he understood that Zamora was advised to take a booster shot because of “serious comorbidities.”
“We respect the decision of his physician,” Duque said.
Zamora received 2 doses of the vaccine developed by Chinese state firm Sinopharm in December last year, months before the Philippines started its vaccination program in March.
Because he was described as “immunodeficient,” the doctors told him he should get 2 booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech, Zamora said.
On Friday, Metro Manila mayors approved a unified certificate for fully vaccinated individuals.
Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan II said his office, together with the Department of Health, was working on the “VaxCertPH,” which would be issued to fully vaccinated people.
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