More economic frontliners can get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID1-19) after health authorities endorsed the continued use of the AstraZeneca vaccines in the country, according to Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.
Concepcion lauded the decision of the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) to allow people below 60 years old to take the AstraZeneca vaccines, saying this was good news for the private sector and the local government units.
AstraZeneca is the brand of vaccine that was procured by many private companies for distribution to their employees and other frontline workers. The initial batch of vaccine supply is expected to arrive in the first week of June.
The same vaccine brand has been purchased by several local government units (LGUs).
“This is good news for us, the private sector and the LGUs, who ordered a total of 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines. We are glad that the FDA changed its position and allowed the Astrazeneca vaccine to be used by individuals 18 years old and above,” Concepcion said in a statement Monday, April 19.
“This decision is vital for us because the majority of the economic frontliners both from the LGU and the private sector are within the formerly restricted age, below 60. It definitely has a significant impact for most of us, especially for our economy—having to allow the working population to be vaccinated,” he added.
Last week, the FDA recommended to temporarily halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccines for persons below 60 as a precaution to ensure public safety after reported blood clots in some vaccinated persons abroad. The decision was adopted by the Department of Health (DOH).
A few days later, FDA Director General Eric Domingo reconsidered the decision, and, instead, recommended the continued rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccines following a review by health experts. Domingo maintained that the benefits of using AstraZeneca vaccines outweighed the potential risk.
DOH said the use of AstraZeneca vaccines will resume after a two-week evaluation of the preventive drug.
Concepcion thanked health authorities for reconsidering their position on the use of AstraZeneca.
“We need every help that we can get to combat this pandemic and I thank the FDA and the DOH for clarifying the confusion on this matter,” he said.
With the vaccine supplies expected to arrive this coming June, Concepcion, founder of Go Negosyo, said preparation for the private sector-led vaccination program was now “in full swing.”
He said an agreement has been signed with Zuellig Pharma Corporation to serve as the official storage and distribution partner in different locations nationwide. The private sector, he said, will pay for the administration fee for the vaccines, including those donated to the government for frontliners.
“Now, what we need is the help from our Filipino people. We need them to be vaccinated for their loved ones, community, workplace, and for our country. We need every qualified Filipino to be vaccinated as it is the only way that we can attain herd immunity,” he said.
“By attaining this, we could further open our economy, and make lives and livelihood prosper in the process,” he added.
Concepcion leads the “A Dose of Hope” initiative that produced millions of vaccine shots for the workforce to boost their protection from the coronavirus and hasten economic recovery.
As coronavirus cases continued to increase, the government launched its free inoculation program last month, starting with health workers, seniors, and those with comorbidities. The next priority beneficiaries will be the essential workers, including transport workers, vendors, and overseas Filipino workers.
The government aims to inoculate 70 million adults to attain herd immunity this year.