'Bawal yan!': FDA chief warns private sector against offering COVID-19 vaccine 'boosters'

Published September 24, 2021, 5:18 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz


Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Eric Domingo on Friday, Sept. 24, warned the private sector against purchasing coronavirus vaccines that will be administered as “booster shots.”

During a forum organized by the University of the Philippines (UP), Domingo reiterated that the administration of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in the country is not yet allowed at this time.

The FDA chief was reacting to reports that some private companies and hospitals have purchased COVID-19 vaccines to serve as booster doses.

“Nakakapagod nga po, every now and then, may ospital or private company kaming maririnig na nago-offer ng ganyan. Pumupunta pa ang Enforcement Unit para ipaalala sa kanila [na] hindi ninyo pwedeng ibenta yan at hindi kayo pwedeng magbakuna na wala sa guidelines ng DOH [Department of Health] (It’s tiring hearing about it every now and then that a hospital or a private company is offering boosters. The Enforcement Unit would still have to go to them to remind them that they can’t sell vaccines and get booster shots without the DOH guidelines),” Domingo said.

“Hindi po pu-pwede [tumanggap ng booster na ino-offer ng private sector] just to be very, very clear and categorical about it (You can’t accept a booster offered by the private sector just to be very, very clear and categorical about it,” he pointed out.

Currently, all vaccines used in the country only have emergency use authorization (EUA), therefore are not yet commercially available.

“Ang maaari lang bumili nito [bakuna] ay ang gobyerno. Nakalagay po yun sa EUA na ini-issue ko sa bawat kumpanya (Only the Philippine government can buy vaccines at this time as stated in the EUA issued to each vaccine company),” he explained.

Domingo noted that the government can only designate partners but they have to follow the implementation program and guidelines of the DOH.

“Minsan yung company na private tumutulong sila sa DOH vaccination program at bumibili sila but they have to follow the implementation program and guidelines of the DOH pa rin po (Sometimes the private company helps the DOH in the vaccination program. They are allowed to buy but they still have to follow the implementation program and guidelines of the DOH),” he said.

“Bago sila papayagang bumili kailangan maga-agree sila dun sa tripartite agreement na susunod sila sa DOH. So kapag sinabi ng DOH na hindi pwedeng booster, hindi po kayo pwedeng bumili at magpa-booster ng para sa sarili ninyo kahit kayo ang nagbayad (Before they are allowed to buy, they must agree to a tripartite agreement that they will abide by the DOH guidelines. So when the DOH says you can’t have a booster, you can’t buy and adminster booster shots even if you paid for it),” he added.

Vaccine Expert Panel head Dr. Nina Gloriani giving booster shot is not yet recommended because more Filipinos have yet to be vaccinated.

“We have to vaccinate more. Let us vaccinate as many [people] muna (first) as possible (before giving boosters),” she said.

“Sa ngayon, 18 to 20 percent ang ating immunization coverage. Malayo pa po tayo although nagdadatingan ang mga bakuna (Right now, our immunization coverage is only 18 to 20 percent. We are still far from our goal although more vaccines are expected to arrive),” she added.