Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. welcomed the finalization of the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program of 2021, saying it allows local government units (LGUs) and the private sector sector to play a bigger role in the fight against the coronavirus disease.
Galvez, vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, said the release of the IRR would finally clear up confusion surrounding the government’s policies in allowing private sector and LGUs to buy their own supply of vaccines under a tripartite deal with the national government.
“We have been pushing for the passage of this legislative measure that will not only address issues regarding the indemnity clause, but also provides protection and support to the private sector and local government units that have volunteered to help in carrying out our national immunization program,” he said on Saturday, March 27.
“With the IRR in place, we have now set a clear pathway for LGUs and the private sector to actively take part in the nation’s vaccine procurement. Likewise, we are looking forward to strengthening our collaboration with other sectors as we continue our fight against this pandemic,” he added.
Galvez said that under the IRR, the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines by private entities and LGUs shall be made in coordination and cooperation with the Department of Health (DOH) and the NTF Against COVID-19. He did not provide any other details about the IRR.
The absence of the IRR previously caused confusion as some sectors claimed that the DOH and NTF were preventing certain private companies from procuring their own vaccine supplies.
Others alleged that the DOH and NTF have “required” the private sector to donate half of their procured supplies to the goverment.
Both allegations were denied by Galvez as he said the vaccines donated by the private sector to the government were “voluntarily” done by the companies themselves.
Earlier this week, Galvez also pointed to British-Swedish vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca as the one requiring private companies to donate a portion of their supply to the government once they enter into a tripartite agreement.
The vaccine czar said that entering into tripartite agreements with the private sector is an “innovation” made by the government to expedite the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines.
He noted that countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and India — which are now inoculating more than a million people daily — have mobilized private firms to procure the vaccines.
As of March 23, a total of 508,332 individuals have already been inoculated against COVID-19 in the Philippines. The DOH and NTF have yet to release an updated data on the number of vaccinees as of this posting.