Gov't has reserves to cover P20-B vaccine purchase for Filipino teens — Dominguez

Published June 15, 2021, 8:34 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Around P20 billion will be set aside by the government to procure additional coronavirus vaccines for the country’s young population.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III gives updates to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on June 14, 2021. (Malacañang)

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has assured the public the government has enough reserves to bankroll the vaccination of 15 million Filipino teenagers, on top of the ongoing inoculation program for the adult Filipinos.

The government earlier allocated around P85 billion for the purchase of 140 million doses of vaccines for 70 million adult Filipinos. The government’s vaccination budget was tackled by Dominguez during a meeting with President Duterte and other Cabinet members Monday, June 14.

“If we have to vaccinate children from 12 to 15… I don’t know if that’s authorized already — from 12 to 15?…We estimate that will cost another P20 billion but we have enough reserves to cover that amount of money so we have enough,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez said there was no need to “worry” about the country’s vaccination budget for both Filipino adults and teen population.

“The money is there and we will certainly be able to vaccinate the entire adult population plus the teenagers who are I think around 15 million, right? Around 15 million Filipinos. So total 85 million Filipinos,” he said.

He noted that Congress has authorized the government to P85 billion for the vaccination program. The funds will be sourced from the budget of Department of Health under the 2021 national budget, overseas development assistance (ODA) financing, and contingent funds.

“The money is coming from first, the Department of Health budget – two and a half billion; Bayanihan 2 is 10 billion, so that is 12 and a half billion, that is from our General Appropriations Act. From ODA financing, in other words, we borrowed from World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Asian Infrastructure [Investment] Bank, we borrowed a total of P58.5 billion: 23.9 from World Bank; 20.3 from Asian Development Bank; and 14.3 from Asian Infrastructure [Investment] Bank,” he said.

“Other financing ho we are sourcing is up to 11 and a half billion and contingency funds probably another two and a half. But the total so far is we have 85 billion,” he added.

The country has so far secured 12.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, including the recent shipments of Sputnik V, Pfizer, and Sinovac shots. Over 1.8 million Filipinos, mostly health workers, seniors, and people with comorbidity, have been fully vaccinated in the country. The government aims to inoculate an initial 9.7 million people in National Capital Region to attain population protection by late November.