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Metro Manila mayors support 'brand agnostic' vaccine policy

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Metro Manila mayors support 'brand agnostic' vaccine policy
A health worker shows syringes filled with Pfizer vaccine as they administer the first dose to those belonging to A1 (medical frontliners), A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (persons with comorbidity) categories during their continuation of vaccination program for San Juaneños at FilOil Flying V Centre (San Juan Arena) on May 12, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Most Metro Manila mayors said they would comply with the instruction from the health and interior departments to withhold vaccine brand information until the scheduled vaccination date for beneficiaries. 

This comes after the Department of the Interior and Local Government issued the directive "to refrain from announcing the brand of vaccines" earlier Thursday to prevent a repeat of mass gatherings when brands are announced beforehand.

In a text message to reporters, Manila City public information chief Julius Leonen said "the local government will comply" with the directive not to disclose vaccine brands until beneficiaries are on-site.

Mandaluyong City public information chief Jim Isidro also told reporters: "Okay lang po sa amin pero 'yung second dose dapat ma-inform (It's okay with us but they should be informed for the second dose)."

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

Muntinlupa City public information officer Tez Navarro said that Muntinlupa adheres to the "brandless policy not to announce kind of vaccines."

"Any vaccines approved by FDA are safe. Immediately, we revised our daily vaccination postings at City Government Official FB," she said. 

Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano clarified that the city government has AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Pfizer "and other" vaccine brands in its stores but told reporters that the LGU supports the president's directive.

"The best vaccine is the one that is available to you," she says, asserting that "all brands are safe and approved."

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said the city has "always followed" directives from the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases. 

"We never announce what brands of vaccines will be used on a particular day. What is important is that the vaccines are approved by the FDA," he said. 

Zamora added that citizens scheduled for their inoculation will know the brand of vaccines on the day of their vaccination. "If they are not comfortable with that particular brand, they can opt not to get vaccinated," he said. 

'Non-disclosure can create distrust'

The only critique came from Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco, who cast fear in an interview aired over ANC that the order could "create distrust."

He added that vaccination "cannot be forced" as citizens have the right "to know what vaccine will be administered." 

"How do we build trust in anything we do? It is through transparency. By hiding the brand we're not being transparent," he was quoted as saying in a tweet report by the Manila Bulletin. 

Earlier Monday, the Coalition for People's Right to Health in a statement called for a "pro-people, transparent, and accountable vaccine rollout plan."

"Vaccination must be done voluntarily with respect for individual rights and cultural considerations, maintaining equitable access to essential health services and proper information in every community," it said. 

Philstar.com has reached out to the remaining chief executives in the capital region. This story will be updated as more information comes in. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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