As local government units step up and set aside funds to procure vaccine supplies for their own territories, the health department urged them to cooperate with the national government to ensure smoother immunization rollout.
Manila and Makati City were the first to announce action taken to allocate funds and register their residents to receive the vaccine once it arrives in the country.
Despite their efforts, procuring their own vaccine supply will not be that easy. According to health undersecretary Rosario Vergeire, only the national government can procure a vaccine given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration.
LGUs may only get vaccines on their own once it is granted a certificate of product registration (CPR) for regular marketing and distribution.
Vaccines, which are technically still in the development stage, are only issued EUAs by regulatory bodies.
“First of all, for the EUA given by the FDA to manufacturers, only the national government can buy those since it is only as EUA,” Vergeire said. “A product is only made available in the market once it has a certificate of product registration and these vaccines won’t be issued a CPR since clinical trials are technically not yet done.”
“So by saying that, ang local governments ay hinihikayat ng national government to work with us because we can pool the funds and then the national government can procure and we can have an effective distribution system,” she went on.
The 2021 national budget recently signed by Pres. Duterte, allocated P72.5 billion for the purchase of Covid vaccines. However, much of this amount is composed of unprogrammed allocations that depend on the availability of government revenues. The remaining P2.5 billion is listed under the health department’s budget. Some LGUs have taken steps to cover gaps in funding.