DOF prepares funds for teen vaccines, booster shots

Published May 13, 2021, 1:19 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Department of Finance (DOF) has begun looking for funds for the inoculation program for young teens and for the probable need for a booster vaccination next year.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said on Thursday, May 13, that the government would need around P20 billion for inoculating approximately 15 million young adolescents between the ages 12 and 17.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (DOF photo)

The DOF estimates comes as some countries, like the United States and Japan, started arranging the vaccination of younger teens and adolescents. Currently, the Philippines approved the emergency use of four COVID-19 vaccines only for individuals aged 18 and above.

Depending on the final recommendation by the Department of Health, Dominguez said that teenagers may get COVIID-19 vaccines within 2021.

“To be conservative I assume that it will commence this year but the final decision will be with the health authorities,” Dominguez told reporters in a mobile phone message.

The government had initially budgeted P82.5 billion for COVID-19 vaccination, enough to inoculate about 70 million adults by the end of the year.

Aside the young teens inoculation, the Duterte administration is also working on the possibility that a vaccine booster dose will be needed after people are initially inoculated against COVID-19.

Dominguez estimated that the possible roll-out of a booster vaccine will demand the national government to cough-up P55 billion in additional spending in 2022.

That initial estimate by the DOF for booster vaccines will cover about 85 million teenagers and adults Filipinos, the finance chief said.

As the mounting costs from the ranging pandemic continue, Dominguez said the government prefers to reallocate budget funds, instead of borrowing, to finance the estimated P75 billion additional requirements for COVID-19 vaccines.

He reiterated that the government needs to maintain “an acceptable fiscal deficit” amid its dwindling revenues and increasing spending allotments due to the prolonged pandemic.

On Wednesday, President Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 41, directing all government agencies to identify savings from their respective appropriations under the 2020 national budget.

Dominguez said the newly issued administrative order aimed to raise funds in preparation for the government’s expanded COVID-19 vaccination program.