Duterte orders distribution of Pfizer vaccines to indigent population

Published May 20, 2021, 12:25 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has ordered the distribution of coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech to the indigent population, Malacañang announced Thursday, May 20 as the country continued to fight the outbreak.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

The American-made vaccines should be distributed not in shopping malls but in poor communities with low vaccine uptake in a bid to boost their protection against the disease, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

“Ipinag-utos ng Pangulo na ibigay ang Pfizer sa mahihirap o sa indigent population dahil ‘yan ang patakaran ng COVAX (The President ordered that Pfizer vaccines should be given to the poor or the indigent population because that’s the policy of COVAX facility),” Roque said during a televised press briefing.

“Dagdag ni Presidente na ilagay ang Pfizer hindi sa mga malls kung hindi sa vaccination sites ng mga barangays kung saan mababa ang take-up ng vaccines. Ito ay ayon na ring sa unang direktiba ng Pangulo na mababakunahan ang Pilipino ng libre. Walang maiiwan (The President added that Pfizer vaccines should be given at vaccination sites of barangays where there is a low take-up of vaccines instead of malls. This is part of the President’s initial directive that Filipinos should be vaccinated for free. No one will be left behind),” he added.

The latest directive was issued to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. after the President expressed concern that distancing protocol was violated during the long lines of the populace waiting to receive Pfizer vaccines in some local government units.

After noticing the supposed bias towards the western brand, the President has appealed to the public not to be choosy in the vaccine brands, assuring that vaccines were all safe and effective.

“Hindi pupuwedeng pumili ng brand ng bakuna. Ang pinakaligtas na bakuna ay ang bakunang nasa inyong braso, anumang brand po iyan. Dahil lahat naman po iyan ay dumaan sa masusing pag-aaral at lahat po iyan ay napatunayang ligtas at epektibo (We cannot choose our vaccine brand. The safest vaccine is the vaccine in your arm regardless of the brand. Because all vaccines went through thorough studies and have been proven safe and effective),” Roque said.

Early May, the country received more than 190,000 vaccines made by the American pharmaceutical giant under the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility. An additional 2.2 million Pfizer vaccines are expected to arrive before the end of month. The COVID vaccines coming from the global vaccine-sharing scheme are aimed at protecting health workers and those most-at-risk of the disease.

The government has ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer vaccines to further boost the country’s supply. The term sheet for the vaccine procurement has been signed by Galvez.