MANILA – Amid reports of vaccine hesitancy, Malacañang on Tuesday urged the public to listen to the real vaccine experts on safety and efficacy of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines.
“Magkaroon naman po tayo ng tiwala sa ating mga eksperto na hindi naman po iyan itututok sa atin kung ito po ay hindi ligtas at hindi gumagana. Dahil kung hindi po tayo magtitiwala sa eksperto, kanino po tayo magtitiwala? (We should trust our experts that the vaccine will not be inoculated to us if it is not safe and not effective. Because if we do not trust the experts, in whom will we trust?),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual Palace presser.
Roque said the government has been working hard to give top priority the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines as directed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Kaya naman po natin binigyan ng prayoridad iyong pagdating ng bakuna dito sa Pilipinas eh dahil ninanais nga ni Presidente na mabawasan iyong mga magkakasakit pa at mamamatay dito sa Covid (The reason why we have given priority to the arrival of the vaccine here in the Philippines because the President really wants to reduce the number of those who will get sick and die because of Covid),” he said.
He echoed the appeal of Philippine Foundation for Vaccination executive director Dr. Lulu Bravo who said not to listen to the “self-proclaimed” experts of vaccines.
“Bigyan po natin ng respeto at tiwala iyong talagang mga maraming alam tungkol sa bakuna (Let's give respect and trust to those who really know a lot about the vaccine),” he said.
In the same virtual presser, Bravo assured that as member of the National Adverse Event Following Immunization Committee (NAEFIC) that monitors the possible side effects of vaccines, the country’s experts always make sure that a vaccine is safe and effective.
“Alam naman natin sa mula’t mula pa, walang bakuna na 100 percent safe and 100 percent efficacious. Pero sa amin na nasa adverse event, ang aming unang-unang titingnan talaga ay iyong safety at posibleng maging epekto noong bakuna sa mga bibigyan nito (We know from the beginning, there is no vaccine that is 100 percent safe and 100 percent efficacious. But for those of us who are in an adverse event, our first priority is really your safety and possibly the impact of the vaccine on those who will be given it),” Bravo said.
She said different committees under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have also been tasked to study and make sure the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
“Kasi kapag titingnan mo ang structure ng FDA doon sa vaccine sa Covid, eh mayroon iyan para sa drugs at mayroon iyan para sa bakuna (Because when you look at the FDA structure there in the Covid vaccine, there is panel for drugs and there is also panel for vaccines),” she added.
Bravo, a vaccine trialist for 35 years, said she is ready to get Covid-19 vaccine as long as it is approved by the country’s FDA.
Though he appealed to listen to the experts on safety of vaccine, Roque said the government will not force any individual to receive free Covid-19 vaccine from the government.
“Pero uulitin ko po, wala na pong pilitan, kung ayaw talaga, okay lang po iyan, mawawala lang ang prayoridad kung sila po ay kabahagi ng priority population at pipila po sila sa huli (But I will repeat, there is no compulsion, if you really do not want to, that is okay, priority will only be lost if they are part of the priority population and they will eventually go last in the line),” Roque said.
In a separate virtual presser, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the national government has allotted PHP75 billion for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines for 57 million Filipinos.
He said several local government units have also allocated funds to buy Covid-19 vaccines for the 13 million residents.
“When you add the 13 million Filipinos that will be covered by LGU and private sector vaccination efforts, a total of 70 million Filipinos should be able to receive the Covid-19 vaccine,” Nograles said.
Roque earlier said the first 50,000 of the 25 million vaccine doses secured by the Philippines from China’s Sinovac will arrive next month.
He said Sinovac will deliver additional 950,000 doses of vaccines in March, 1 million doses in April, 1 million doses in May, and 2 million doses in June until all 25 million doses are delivered by December this year.
Roque said majority of Covid-19 vaccines developed by other international pharmaceutical companies will arrive in third and fourth quarters of the year. (PNA)