Local governments urged to work with DOH for 'effective' distribution of vaccines
A healthcare worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine to an Israeli woman at Clalit Health Services, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, on January 3, 2021.
AFP/Jack Guez

Local governments urged to work with DOH for 'effective' distribution of vaccines

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - January 4, 2021 - 1:33pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health called on local governments to work with the agency to achieve a “more effective” deployment of coronavirus vaccines, once available, to their constituents.

DOH issued the call Monday after several local governments in Metro Manila announced they have allotted funds to provide COVID-19 vaccines for their residents.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said only the national government can procure COVID-19 vaccines that will be given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the country’s Food and Drug Administration.

According to the guidelines of the Philippine FDA, the EUA is an authorization issued for unregistered drugs and vaccines in a public health emergency such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. The EUA is not a certificate of product registration or a marketing authorization. 

The emergency authorization shall be valid only within the duration of the declared public health emergency due to COVID-19, or upon issuance of full market authorization or CPR.

Vergeire said a vaccine can be only available in the market if it secures a certificate of product registration (CPR) from the FDA.

“Hindi pa mabibigyan itong mga bakunang ito ng CPR kasi di pa naman effectively or technically tapos ang kanilang clinical trials. Hanggang [Phase 3] pa lang ‘yang mga ‘yan. Meron lang tayong exemptions sa ngayon because of this public health emergency,” Vergeire said in a briefing Monday.

(Vaccines cannot be issued CPR yet because technically, they haven’t finished their clinical trials. They have only so far reached Phase 3. We only have exemptions for now because of this public health emergency.)

Last week, the City of Manila launched a pre-registration program for residents who want to avail of free coronavirus vaccination. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno earlier said the capital city has set aside P200 million to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.

The city government of Makati announced Monday that it is allocating P1 billion for the free vaccination of its residents. The cities of Navotas, Valenzuela and Pasig have also reportedly allocated funds to buy COVID-19 vaccines.

Working with LGUs

Stressing that the national immunization program is within the mandate of the DOH, Vergeire said the agency is looking forward to collaborating with local governments.

“The national government is encouraging local governments to work with us so we can pool the funds and the national government can procure and we can have an effective distribution system,” the health official said in Filipino.

“We are now in talks with local government so we can have a unified effort and there won’t be any technicalities and also we can be able to monitor as well,” she added.

Makati Mayor Abby Binay said the city officials are coordinating with vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and the Inter-Agency Task for Emerging Infectious Disease for the purchase of vaccines and the mass inoculation.

Binay said that as soon as the city government secures approval from the IATF, the government’s policy-making body on its COVID-19 response, she would ask the city council to pass a supplemental budget for the purchase of the critical drugs.

The government is aiming to inoculate 24.7 million Filipinos in the first part of the vaccination program against COVID-19 this year.

The new coronavirus has infected 477,807 people in the Philippines, including 9,257 deaths.

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