'Counterproductive' to conceal vaccine brands at inoculation sites — Hontiveros

'Counterproductive' to conceal vaccine brands at inoculation sites � Hontiveros
Crowds queue along the sidewalk and parking lot while representatives from the local government screen and hand out numbers for the allotted 900 qualified individuals for the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID19 vaccine at a hotel in Manila on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:10 p.m.) — It would be "counterproductive" not to announce the brands of COVID-19 vaccines available at inoculation sites, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Thursday as she warned that enforcing such a policy might erode people's trust in the national vaccination program.

She was referring to a suggestion made the day before by Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje who expresses concern at the huge crowds, many of them walk-ins, turning up at sites offering vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.

“We cannot increase the confidence of our countrymen when our policies are in doubt," Hontiveros said in Filipino. "It is also a sign that the DOH has fallen short of convincing people that approved vaccines are guaranteed safe and effective, regardless of its brand name." 

Hontiveros called on the Department of Health to reconsider the policy, saying that patients must be properly informed before they consent to inoculation. 

'Offer incentives, educate people instead' 

The senator said overcrowding in certain facilities could have been avoided had people been properly educated on vaccines by the government. 

She also called on the government to partner with local government units in expanding its vaccine education program and in incentivizing more people to get COVID-19 jabs. 

"We should be offering the public incentives such as grocery packs or paid vacation leave to encourage them to get vaccinated," Hontiveros said in Filipino.

"The government needs to do all it can to regain the public’s trust. If not, we risk never reaching herd immunity." 

Lacson defends 'brand agnostic' policy

Sen. Panfilo Lacson in a statement later Thursday agreed that "more efforts must be made to assure the public of the benefits of vaccination amid the pandemic."

However, he defended the policy which LGUs have said they will implement following the DOH's recommendation, noting that "[i]t is not a new and unique practice."

"One reason why the vaccination program in other countries, particularly the United States, has become highly successful is that recipients of the vaccines are only informed of the brand of the vaccine once they are already on site and ready to get inoculated," he said.

"[S]ome health experts have pointed out the best vaccine is the one available," Lacson added. "Besides, clinical trials are a continuing process so no one can really conclude with finality which vaccine brand is better than the other."

In a speech aired Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte, who was vaccinated with a jab not available to the rest of the Filipino public, said people cannot be picky with the brand of COVID-19 vaccine they will receive.

Since the Philippines launched its vaccination campaign on March 1, only over 786,000 people, 0.71% of the population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Some 2.51 million individuals have received the first dose of the vaccine.

— Bella Perez-Rubio 

vuukle comment




  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with