De Lima files bill to ensure free COVID-19 vaccines for all Filipinos

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2020 01:14 PM

De Lima files bill to ensure free COVID-19 vaccines for all Filipinos 1
A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken Oct. 30, 2020. Dado Ruvic, Reuters/File

MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima has filed a bill seeking to provide free COVID-19 vaccines for all Filipinos.

Under Senate Bill No. 1942 or the "Libreng Bakuna Kontra COVID-19 Para sa Lahat ng Pilipino Act," the government is mandated to conduct a "free voluntary vaccination" program for all Filipinos, but must prioritize "frontline and vulnerable sectors."

"The cost of universal vaccination may seem too high on its face, but could later on be the very tool that will help the government to save more money in order to create and institutionalize more programs for the welfare of all," De Lima said in a statement on Sunday.

"It cannot be overemphasized: vaccine coverage is as important as vaccine efficacy," she said.

Those who will receive the vaccine should first give their consent before being inoculated.

Medical personnel who will administer the COVID-19 vaccine must inform the recipient of the following details:
- Brand to be administered
- Nature of the vaccine
- Manner in which the vaccine is administered
- Persons to whom the vaccine is intended
- Persons to whom the vaccine is prohibited or not advised
- Side effects of the vaccine, if any
- Period of efficacy of the vaccine
- Official DOH and lATF-EID website or social media pages where the information on the vaccine is available

"A concrete plan of action that will universally promote the right of all Filipinos to health is vital in winning this battle against COVID-19," said De Lima, a former chair of the Commission on Human Rights. 

"A vaccination plan that is inclusive will be an instrument to create herd immunity in a country of more than 100 million."

A COVID-19 vaccine fund amounting to P72.5 billion has been allotted under the proposed 2021 national budget, but economic managers said that the amount could cover only poor Filipinos.

Some private companies have also entered an agreement with the government and British–Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines next year.

Health experts earlier said that the Philippines needs to inoculate at least 60 million Filipinos to develop a herd immunity against the new coronavirus.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the COVID-19 vaccine may become available in the Philippines in the first or second quarter of next year.

“Best case scenario, baka mga March, towards the end o the first quarter of 2021, o mga second quarter, na mga April. Sa ngayon, 'yung global supply, ‘di pa akma sa demand. Patuloy ang paglilikha ng bakuna ng mga naturang vaccine manufacturing companies,” Duque said last Friday.

The Philippines has recorded 449,400 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Dec. 13, of which, 8,733 resulted in deaths and 418,687 have recovered. The active cases stood at 21,980. 

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