DOH ‘open to alternatives’ if Covid-19 state of calamity not extended

Department of Health

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday, Dec. 30 that it is open to alternative measures if the state of calamity due to Covid-19 will not be extended in the country.

“We have submitted our recommendations to the President. Pinag-aaralan na nila ito nang maigi (They are studying it carefully),” the DOH said.

President Marcos on Thursday, Dec. 29, expressed his hesitancy to extend the state calamity due to Covid-19, saying “it’s the wrong mindset” going into the new year.

“If the extension will not be approved, we can still continue with the Covid-19 vaccination program using existing doses considering their validity is hinged on their Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs),” the DOH said.

“But, we cannot procure additional doses, including the bivalent vaccines,” it added.

In addition, the DOH said that not extending the state of calamity may lead to a decrease in the number of vaccinators, “as other cadres such as pharmacists may no longer be tapped, and willingness to vaccinate may decrease as immunity from liability is not guaranteed.”

However, it pointed out that it is “open to alternatives” to ensure that the vaccination program is not disrupted.

“For instance, we were informed that a special authority to purchase may be granted. Patuloy po tayong nakikipag-ugnayan sa Office of the President (We will continue to coordinate with the Office of the President). Let us wait on the decision of the President,” the DOH said.

Meanwhile, tuluy-tuloy pa rin naman ang pakikipag-usap natin ngayon sa mga (we are continuously talking to the) vaccine manufacturer and COVAX facility to secure bivalent vaccines this coming year,” it added.

The DOH also said that it works closely with the Presidential Legislative and Liaison Office to fast track the passage of the Philippine Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) Bill.

“We have requested the same to be certified as urgent by the President. Once passed into law, the CDC Act shall serve as a legal basis for the continued and uninterrupted implementation of the government’s Covid-19 vaccination program and response for other future public health emergencies, without the need for the declaration of a state of calamity,” it added.