Can Filipinos choose their vaccines? 'Walang pilian, pilitan' says Malacañang

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 11) — Filipinos will not be forced to get inoculated against the COVID-19, but they cannot be "picky" once a vaccine becomes available for rollout in the country, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday.

"Wala pong pilian, wala kasing pilitan. Pero magsa-sign ka ng waiver na hindi nagpaturok," Roque said.

[Translation: No one can choose, no one can also be forced. But you have to sign a waiver if you do not like to get vaccinated.]

According to Roque, while everyone has the right to proper health services, one must consider the number of Filipinos who all need to receive doses.

"Meron po tayong karapatan para sa mabuting kalusugan pero hindi naman po pepwede na pihikan dahil napakaraming Pilipino na dapat turukan," he added.

[Translation: We have a right to be healthy, but we cannot just be picky because there are a lot of Filipinos who need to get vaccinated.]

​During a Senate hearing, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. said vaccinations will be done on a geographical and sectoral basis, with Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao to be prioritized for vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna – two US brands with above 90% efficacy rates and strict storage temperature requirements. They will be limited to these big hubs, where the cold chain capacity is available.

Galvez said Novavax, Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines may be the first to reach the country, but added that a pending application for an early rollout under the World Health Organization's COVAX facility could also lead to the delivery of Pfizer vials in the country this quarter.

Meanwhile, Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo said current guidance requires a person to receive both doses of the vaccines from one drug maker instead of receiving or trying out shots prepared by separate pharmaceutical firms.

Roque noted that for those who do not want to get vaccine doses, they have an option to waive their slots even if they belong to a priority group, to indicate that they are willing to let others get inoculated ahead of them.

"Sasama ka sa the rest ng taumbayan na naghihintay ng bakuna. Tama lang naman po iyan, walang pilian kasi hindi naman natin mako-control kung ano ang darating, at libre po ito," Roque noted.

[Translation: You will have to join the rest of the nation in waiting for a vaccine. It's just right, no one can choose because we cannot control which doses will come first, and they will be provided for free.]

Roque said this is not yet covered in any resolution by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, but this just serves as a consensus among the public for now.

The country is set to prioritize frontline health workers, indigent senior citizens, remaining senior citizens, remaining indigent population, and uniformed personnel when vaccines become available for rollout this year, he added.

READ: COVID-19 vaccines: Where is PH in the procurement, clinical trials? 

Numerous local government units have announced that they have secured deals to acquire hundreds of thousands of vacine doses for their constituents. Majority of the local chief executives announced that they have sealed tripartite agreements with the national government for doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, which has an efficacy rate of up to 90% for those who received a half dose followed by a full dose.

READ: LIST: Local governments secure vaccine doses in advance 

Malacañang stressed that LGUs must follow the tripartite deal with the national government and the pharmaceutical firms for an effective rollout of the vaccines. Those who fail to do so may face corresponding sanctions.