Lawmakers say LGUs, private sector entitled to buy booster shots under vaccination law

Two lawmakers on Wednesday, Sept 15, said there is no need to pass a new law that would allow the private sector and local government units (LGUs) to purchase booster shots for COVID-19 v as it is already covered under the Vaccination Act of 2021 that Congress rushed to approve.

Sen. Nancy Binay and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said they believe that under the law, the private sector and LGUs are allowed to procure booster shots to expedite the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

“I believe the procurement for booster shots can already be covered by the Vaccination Act that we passed. It is part of the government’s vaccination program,” Binay said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual forum.

Garin, who was also present at the forum, agreed with Binay, noting that the administration of booster shots is already the direction taken by other countries like the United States and several European and Middle Eastern countries.

A former health secretary, Garin also pointed out even vaccine manufacturers themselves recognize the need for booster shots to better provide greater protection against COVID-19 especially with the emergence of deadly variants.

“I do understand that this is new. But I hope our decision makers would have some flexibility. It’s difficult when they already have a fixed mind. Science is continuously evolving,” Garin said.

“There is such a thing as Mature Regulatory Agencies with actual trials already for booster shots. If Pfizer already has full authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this can be used as basis of the Philippine FDA to give access to the LGUs and also the private sector,” she stressed.

The House lawmaker said the Department of Health (DOH) can serve as the consolidator.

Section 5 of Republic Act No. 11525, states that private sector may purchase vaccines in cooperation with the DOH and the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19. Private entities that buy vaccines under the law shall only be allowed to do so for their exclusive use, in order to prioritize the needs of the healthcare workers, senior citizens, economic frontliners and essential personnel.

“I would understand the private sector’s need for booster shots. In their workplaces, even if everyone had been vaccinated, if one becomes positive, the infection will spread and the work will stop,” Garin pointed out.

“So it is killing them, especially the small companies. This is why they need to buy vaccines for booster shots,” she said.

“With Delta surprise, the vaccination could be our consideration for a (vaccine) bubble, but only if there is a third dose,” the House lawmaker stressed.