Gov't allows MSMEs to buy COVID-19 vaccines

Published June 12, 2021, 11:08 AM

by Martin Sadongdong

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are now allowed by the national government to purchase their own coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines as the immunization program is slowly being opened to more priority sectors.

A micro, small, and medium entrepreneur (MSME) utilizing cashless solutions. (File photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

This was stated in a joint memorandum circular (JMC) jointly signed by the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 dated June 3, 2021 — a copy of which was obtained by the Manila Bulletin on Saturday, June 12.

The JMC was signed by Health Sec. Francisco Duque III and NTF Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

According to the implementing guidelines under Paragraph V, Section A (1) (ii) of the JMC’s Procedures on the Procurement and Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines for Private Entities, private entities, including MSMEs “shall submit a letter of intent to the vaccine manufacturers through the local EUA [emergency use authorization] holder” if they so wish to procure vaccines.

The JMC stressed that MSMEs will have to enter into a multilateral agreement with the DOH, NTF, and the relevant supplier of vaccines in procuring the jabs — which is similar to the guideline earlier set for other big private companies.

The JMC said that the letter of intent should contain at least the following details: a) list and nature of the company/ies; b) number of company employees and their designated persons including breakdown of priority eligible population (e.g. number of A.1. healthcare workers, A.2. senior citizens, etc.), and c) number of vaccines to be procured.

Asked whether the government has already allowed MSMEs to buy their own vaccines, Galvez, who is also the vaccine czar, responded: “Yes.”

Galvez said the decision was made as the government already allowed the vaccination of economic frontliners, or those who belong in the A4 priority sector, along with healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), and people with co-morbidities (A3).

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the vaccination of the A4 priority sector will help the country’s economy to recover quickly since more protected workforce means more industries and businesses will be allowed to open.

However, Galvez acknowledged that one of the challenges in vaccinating economic frontliners was the limited supply of vaccines in the country.

This was the reason why the government allowed the private sector to procure their own supply of vaccines so they can vaccinate their own employees.

Further more, the vaccine czar bared that some vaccine manufacturers have also started applying for the “full authorization” of their vaccines.

To date, the WHO and the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only authorized the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines. This means that they should be given freely and are not yet readily available for commercialization.

Vaccines that are given full authorization by the World Health Organization (WHO) can be marketed directly to consumers and be bought from private companies.

“Moderna and Pfizer are now applying for full authorization. They might be open commercially by September or October,” Galvez revealed.

For now, the vaccination of employees of private entities including in MSMEs “shall be entirely free of charge,” according to the JMC.

It added that the vaccination should follow the A1 to A4 prioritization set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The JMC also noted that private entities including MSMEs that procure their own supply of vaccines for their employees “are not required to donate vaccines to the national government.”