COVID-19 vaccines are 'equal', says Palace, as it defends non-disclosure policy

Published May 20, 2021, 2:00 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Despite concerns that it will violate the people’s right to informed consent, Malacañang stood its ground on the policy barring local government units (LGUs) to disclose the brand of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines that will be given to the public.

Vaccination at SM Center Muntinlupa (File photo: Muntinlupa PIO / MANILA BULLETIN) 

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the announcement following the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) and the order of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to LGUs to refrain from including vaccine brands in their announcements.

In his press briefing on Thursday, Roque said the order does not violate the principle of informed consent as the public has always been informed that all vaccines were created equal.

“Ang informed consent po ay sasabihan ang ating mamamayan na dumaan po sa proseso ang lahat ng bakunang ibinibigay natin sa ating mga kababayan (The informed consent is us telling the public that these vaccines that we’re giving them were studied),” he said.

“Hindi lang po ‘yan dumaan sa proseso sa Pilipinas, dumaan din po ‘yan sa proseso abroad (It did not only undergo a process here in the Philippines but in other countries as well),” he added.

Roque likewise denied that the non-disclosure of vaccine brands meant the lack of transparency. He said what’s more important was to vaccinate the public.

“Ang importante sa transparency ay yung katotohanan na kapag hindi tayo magpapabakuna, yung mga bagong variants po ay mas nakakahawa at yung ilan ay pinaghihinalaan na mas delikado (What’s important with transparency is the fact that if we won’t get vaccinated, there are new variants that are more contagious and more dangerous),” he said.

“So full transparency is the (affirmation that the) best vaccine is the vaccine that will be given to you,” he added.

The Palace official asked for the public’s understanding as he reiterated that they cannot be choosy when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines.

“So hinihingi po namin ang pag-intindi ng ating kababayan pero–ako naman po ay na-bash dati talaga– talagang ang posiyon natin, wala naman po talagang polisiya na binibigyan ng pagkakataong mamili (We ask for the people’s understanding but– I was bashed because of this before– our position, really, is there’s no policy that gives the people the chance to choose a vaccine),” he said.

Meanwhile, Roque said the order was made by the President following the huge crowds that formed in vaccination sites after the announcement that the Pfizer vaccine would be given.