Robredo to gov’t: Liberalize vaccine procurement for private firms

Published February 8, 2021, 9:06 AM

by Raymund Antonio

For Vice President Leni Robredo, the government should allow private companies to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for their employees sans conditions.

Vice President Leni Robredo
(Photo by Charlie Villegas / OVP)

“For me, we should liberalize this (procurement of vaccines by private companies). For me, it’s okay that we require them to donate but we should also not make it hard for businesses that like to purchase the vaccine because for me, the more there is a vaccine available, that will help us all. We will reach herd immunity faster,” she said in Filipino over dzXL Sunday, Feb. 7.

Robredo was reacting to earlier reports that the private companies are allowed to buy vaccines for their employees under a tripartite deal with the national government but donate half of the purchase to the state.

“I hope it won’t be too centralized. My worry is that if (the vaccination program) becomes too centralized, it will become an obstruction. For me, we should not make it difficult for these private companies. As long as the protocols and regulations are in place, we shouldn’t make it hard for them because those they will vaccinate will help our economy,” she said.

Robredo added that allowing private companies to inoculate their employees with the vaccine will unclog government facilities. 

Robredo is worried that the longer the vaccine rollout would take, the more it will affect businesses, the economy, the education of children, and the workers. 

The vice president cited a Bloomberg report that said it would take seven years to end the pandemic as most countries are not ready with their vaccination programs. 

Robredo said even developed countries are having a problem with their vaccine rollout, but suggested that the government looks into the best practices of countries like Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which have the fastest vaccination program. 

Israel is considered the most COVID-19 vaccinated country as cases there start to decline. UAE has also begun its vaccination drive for the elderly and those with chronic conditions. Private companies there are also requiring their employees to take the vaccine. 

Robredo said the way to a better vaccination program is to take care of logistics even before the actual vaccines arrive. 

In the United States, the vice president said that President Joseph Biden’s team has been treating the vaccine program as a health and “logistical problem.”

As an example, Robredo pointed to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s recent statement wherein he said that those who will be vaccinated need to stay in the facility for 30 minutes to an hour to wait if there are side effects to the vaccine.

The vice president urged the government to iron out the logistics of such a process, as well as the training of those who will do the inoculation.