Gov't won't be liable for untoward incidents on booster shots without EUA — DOH

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Gov't won't be liable for untoward incidents on booster shots without EUA � DOH
A health worker prepares a dose of the BioNtech Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination for seafarers at a stadium in Manila on July 15, 2021.
AFP / Ted Ajibe

MANILA, Philippines — A health official warned on Friday that government will not shoulder responsibility for untoward incidents on those who will receive COVID-19 booster shots without emergency use approval yet from local drug regulators. 

The Philippines is awaiting clearance from its Food and Drug Administration on EUA applications from Pfizer, Astrazeneca, Sinovac and Gamaleya for their booster doses. 

But in a briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have already received reports of Filipinos who have received the jabs prematurely. 

"If, God forbid, there will be untoward reaction," she said in Filipino, "then government cannot be held accountable. [It] will be the ones who gave you those and those who sourced out these vaccines."

Vergeire added that getting booster shots is against national protocols as it has yet to be included in the country's vaccination guidelines. 

There was no mention of specific sanctions for those responsible. But the country's counterfeit law on drugs prohibits the sale and distribution, among others, of unauthorized vaccines and drugs. 

It does not, however, penalize those who receive shots of unregistered jabs. 

Early into the Philippines' inoculation drive, the government struggled in holding accountable those who jumped in the line to get vaccinated. 

That involved members of President Rodrigo Duterte's security details, as well as several local chief executives.

No one has been held responsible for these to date, and the FDA had admitted to meeting a "blank wall" in its investigation. 

Vergeire instead urged the public to wait for EUA on the booster shots. 

"This is not to restrict or control the flow of vaccines," she said in Filipino, "but for the government to ensure that these will be safe and effective for our people."

The health department has already approved a government panel's recommendation to administer booster shots on health workers and the elderly in the last quarter of the year. 

Third dose of COVID-19 vaccines were also given the green light for immunocompromised individuals. 

Still, the agency reminded that an EUA from FDA is still required before these efforts begin. 

Latest data showed the country has fully vaccinated 30.80 million individuals out of its target this 2021 of 77.13 million. 

Some 36.90 million have received an initial shot, with 67.71 million vaccine doses since administered.

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