DILG directs LGUs: Only disclose vaccine brands on-site instead of announcing

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
DILG directs LGUs: Only disclose vaccine brands on-site instead of announcing
Senior citizens wait to be inoculated with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines at Mandaluyong's mega vaccination site next to the city hall on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government said Thursday that all local government units have been directed "to refrain from announcing the brand of vaccines" to be used in a particular vaccination center in favor of disclosing them only when the beneficiaries are on-site.

In a statement, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año while LGUs will not be allowed to announce the vaccine brand, the individual scheduled for vaccination will still be informed of the vaccine brand on-site.

DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said an advisory will be issued by the department to all local chief executives following the announcement.

“The person will be informed of the brand in the vaccination center and he will have to give his informed consent but if he refuses, he will have to go back to the back of the line,” he said.

“The best vaccine is the one that is available; therefore in order to overcome brand preference, LGUs should not announce the brand of vaccine to be used in vaccination centers."

Año claimed that the individual’s right to information is still "fully respected," adding that the move was only done to prevent a repeat of mass gatherings when brands are announced beforehand.

To recall, the Department of Health made the recommendation earlier Wednesday to prevent incidents of people swarming inoculation facilities. This came after crowds of walk-in beneficiaries built up at facilities offering Pfizer vaccines. 

The former military general said in his statement that the country should get vaccinated with whatever vaccines are already available for use, adding that all FDA-approved vaccines have gone through a stringent approval process and are therefore safe.

“Given that every single day of delay increases the risk of covid transmission or infection, it is imperative the people get vaccinated immediately using the available vaccine,” he said.

The DILG along with the National Task Force Against COVID-19 routinely present aggregate or sum numbers to argue that the Philippines is among the top countries in vaccination. As of the DILG's latest update:

  • As of May 17, 2021, 7,149,020 out of 7,779,050 COVID-19 vaccine doses were already deployed to vaccination centers nationwide.
  • Of these, 3,001,875 vaccine doses have been administered; 2,282,273 were given as a first dose while 719,602 doses were used for the second dose.

Per Our World in Data, though, the Philippines is among the worst countries in the world when it comes to vaccine per population. 

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

To date, the Department of Health has recorded 1.16 million coronavirus infections in the country, 49,951 of whom are still classified as active cases. 

“We need to educate the people in order to overcome brand preference. All FDA-approved vaccines are just Emergency Use Authorization. They are all similarly situated. Our health experts have repeatedly said that there is none that is more effective than the other. All of them prevent hospitalization or critical illness from COVID. That is what is important,” he added.

It is unclear how withholding brand names will educate people on vaccine hesitancy, but the former general urged the public to support the government’s vaccination program "because it’s their duty as citizens to protect themselves, their family, and their country by being vaccinated."

— with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico 

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