Selling vaccination slots is not allowed as it goes against the principle of equitable vaccine distribution and may compromise the country’s obligation with the COVAX Facility on the basis of equitable distribution of vaccines, said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr.
“In terms of legal basis, pinag-aaralan ko nga po anong legal basis diyan, the closest I can think of are forms of swindling kasi hindi naman dapat binebenta yung slot, at pupwede yung paglabag ng ating FDA law, pinagaaralan po natin yan,” said Secretary Roque in a press briefing on May 24, 2021.
Sec. Roque also called on local officials to punish those who will be caught doing so. “Ang panawagan nga natin sa mga lokal na pamahalaan ay kung puwede rin magpasa sila ng ordinansa na magpapataw ng parusa doon sa magbebenta ng slots para malinaw po na mayron tayong legal na basehan para parusahan ang mga taong gumagawa ng ganito.”
National Task Force Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer and Testing Czar Secretary Vivencio “Vince” Dizon likewise stressed that all vaccines are free and that those who are selling their vaccination slots must be caught and punished.
Secretary Dizon also commended the quick action of some LGUs on the matter like Mandaluyong Mayor Carmelita “Menchie” Abalos and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairperson Benjamin Abalos Jr. who sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation, as well as Manila City Mayor Francisco Domagoso who released a City Ordinance that clearly prohibits the said act.
On the issue of buying and selling vaccines by private individuals, Secretary Roque stressed that because no vaccine is covered by commercial use authorization, selling vaccines is not allowed because all vaccines currently available are still under emergency use authorization.
“Pag kayo po ay nagbenta, labag po yan sa batas na bumubuo ng FDA because you’re engaging in illegal sale and distribution of a [vaccine] na hindi pa po covered ng commercial use,” said Sec. Roque.
Roque, who also sits as spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), reminded those who have received their first vaccine dose to not forget to get their second dose to get optimum protection. “Ang iniiwasan natin ay ang ma-ospital at mamatay. Ito ang goal ng ating mass vaccination – ang population protection,” remarked Roque.
To stress his point, the Cabinet official cited an article that came out in a publication in the United States (US), which says that while COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are decreasing in the US, there is an extreme threat of hospitalization for unvaccinated people. Quoting the said article, Roque said that unvaccinated seniors are 11 times likely to get hospitalized than seniors who got vaccinated, while unvaccinated people between ages 45 to 64 have 18 times higher chances of hospitalization due to COVID-19.
“Simple lang po ang mensahe nito: Huwag tayong magpakampante. Mask, Hugas, Iwas, at Bakuna po tayo now na,” Roque quipped.
In the said press briefing, Roque said that as of May 24, 2021, there are already 8,279,050 vaccine doses that have arrived in the country, according to data from the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center.
Sec. Dizon added that the country’s weekly average accomplishment for vaccination has reached a peak of 236,244 vaccine doses administered on Week 12 of the vaccination program.
Meanwhile, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted in the period of April 28 to May 2, showed that among the currently available brands in the Philippines that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration, 39 percent of respondents preferred the Sinovac Biotech brand, followed by the Pfizer vaccine with 32 percent, AstraZeneca vaccine with 22 percent, and the Gamaleya vaccine with 2 percent. ### OPS-PCOO