DOH suggests: Don’t announce brand available in COVID-19 jab centers

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
DOH suggests: Don�t announce brand available in COVID-19 jab centers
Pfizer vaccines are shown prior to its preperation during the vaccination program for A1 to A3 priority categories at Mandaluyong Mega vaccination site just near Mandaluyong city hall on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The brand of COVID-19 vaccines available in an inoculation site should no longer be announced to prevent incidents of people swarming facilities, the Department of Health recommended Wednesday. 

Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, chair of the national vaccination operations center, made the suggestion after huge crowds, many of them walk-ins, turned up in sites offering vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech.

“Everybody wanted to queue where Pfizer is being rolled out,” Cabotaje said in Filipino during a briefing. 

“Maybe one of the strategies that can be made is to not announce which kind of vaccine will be given to people,” Cabotaje said in Filipino during a briefing. 

Government officials and experts have been constantly reminding the public to take any vaccine offered to them. 

“Our general principle is that people should take that vaccine that is available,” Cabotaje said, who also reminded people to show up in vaccination sites once they are scheduled to get inoculated. 

Right to refuse

Cabotaje said only health workers were given the “right of first refusal” during the early days of the government’s vaccination drive. 

At the time, only the vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech was available so medical frontliners were allowed to choose their preferred vaccine brand and refuse inoculation without losing his or her slot in the priority list. 

“Other than that, there should be no right of refusal. Get the vaccine that is available. If you don’t, you go down the end of the line,” Cabotaje said.

For ordinary citizens who will refuse to get vaccinated, he or she will be subjected to a rescheduling process according to the prioritization framework for inoculation, the DOH said on its website.

Vaccination, however, is not mandatory in the Philippines and anyone may opt to decline.

In a speech aired Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said Filipinos cannot be picky with the brand of COVID-19 vaccine they will receive.

Since the Philippine launched its vaccination campaign on March 1, only over 786,000 people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Meanwhile, 2.51 million individuals have received the first of two doses of the vaccine.

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