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Private firms allowed to buy vaccines

Malacañang yesterday announced that all private companies, including cigarette firms, are allowed to purchase Covid-19 vaccines provided they enter into tripartite agreements with the national government and the manufacturers.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the clarification after lawmakers questioned a supposed draft administrative order (AO) prohibiting private companies from importing Covid-19 vaccines for their employees, even describing the document as “illegal.”

Under the supposed draft AO, the Department of Health and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 will review requests of private companies to purchase vaccines “to ensure that private entities who will be part of the agreement are not in any way related to the tobacco industry, products covered under EO 51 series of 1986 or the ‘National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplement and Other Related Products’ or other products in conflict with public health.”

However, Roque said the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 11525 or the Covid-19 Vaccination Law has been amended to allow private companies to procure Covid-19 vaccines for their employees.

The Covid-19 Vaccination Law provides a legal framework for the vaccination program, including the participation of private entities in that effort.

“Private firms, including cigarette companies can purchase vaccines according to the amended IRR or RA 11525 or the Covid-19 Vaccination Law subject to tripartite agreement,” Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

He noted that private firms must enter into tripartite agreements with the vaccine manufacturers and the national government because Covid-19 vaccines are not yet commercially available in the market.

“The tripartite agreement cannot be avoided since there is no commercially available vaccine available yet,” he said.

Roque also pointed out that all Covid-19 vaccines have only been approved for emergency use.

“All of the vaccines are under emergency use authorization that’s why the government needs to enter into a tripartite agreement,” he added.

The DOH on Sunday explained that it was still finalizing the draft AO which would contain the IRR for the Covid-19 Vaccination Law.

In a statement, the DOH said it is “still in the process of reconciling the proposed provisions with other existing laws and guidelines.”*PNA

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