Amid the move of local government units’ (LGUs) to acquire additional COVID-19 vaccine, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today clarified that the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines must be coordinated with the national government, through the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) and the Department of Health (DOH), in a tripartite agreement involving local governments and pharmaceutical companies.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that LGUs’ bold effort to earmark funds from their local budget for COVID-19 vaccines is commendable but the proper procedure must be followed to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure standardized pricing. He said that as the main procurer of the said vaccine for the nation, the national government will take the lead to ensure that the necessary monitoring and proper allocation, through the DOH, is done across the country.
“We thank the LGUs for augmenting the efforts of the National Government. We are on track to purchase some 184 million doses from several manufacturers and the procurement by LGUs will be a big help to inoculate more people,” Año said.
“The President has approved the tripartite approach in LGU procurement. We will follow this system to ensure that all involved parties are on the same page. So all LGUs who are planning vaccine procurement must coordinate with Vaccine Czar Charlie Galvez,” he added.
Año emphasized that LGUs can do initial negotiations with pharmaceutical companies but the agreement must be tripartite among the national government, the local government, and the pharmaceutical company involved. He said that this will ensure that the standards set by the IATF, WHO, and DOH are met.
He said that this set-up will also guarantee that the prices of COVID-19 vaccines are standardized and that there will be no duplication of vaccinated individuals.
“Ang magiging procurer o mag-aangkat nitong COVID-19 vaccine ay national government pa rin para namomonitor pa din ng DOH. Magli-lead pa din ang DOH sa lahat ng ginagawang acquisition maging sa National Government kasi karamihan sa makukuhang bakuna ay hindi lamang isa ang kinakailangan,” he said.
COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca require two doses to ensure the highest percentage of immunization.
In between these doses of vaccines, Año said that DOH’s role in monitoring will be vital to ensure that the standards and protocols are being followed. “Ang monitoring na ito ay nakapahalaga, masusing susundan ang mga nabakunahan ng sa gayon ay kung may mga side effects ay naire-record at nado-document ito para ating nasusunod ang mga safety protocols at para na din maibigay ang ikalawang bakuna on time.”
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya urged LGUs to prepare in order to ensure that vaccination down to their barangay level will be efficient “for their role in ensuring the success of the National Government vaccine deployment in all fronts is needless to say, a matter of life and death.” The government intends to vaccinate some 50-70 million Filipinos this year.
“LGUs must be proactive in doing preparatory initiatives, consistent with the COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap, the government’s national deployment, and vaccination plan. As early as now ay kailangang naghahanda na ang mga LGU sapagkat malaki ang kanilang magiging gampanin sa programang ito,” Malaya said.
Based on the roadmap, “all local government units should establish or revitalize its current Incident Command (IC) structure to include a dedicated arm for vaccination. A Technical Working Group (TWG) should be formed under the Office of the Mayor to guide the localized implementation plan. The City/Municipal Health officer shall lead the TWG on immunization.”
He said that Local Health Offices must conduct initial planning to determine the eligible populations for vaccination in designated areas, identification of implementing units, identification of human resources to be utilized, estimation of vaccine requirements, and logistics planning.
Malaya also said that LGUs must develop their distribution plan appropriate for their situation which will then be gathered by the Task Force for a comprehensive national chain and logistics plan for COVID-19 vaccination.
“The DOH will be conducting regional training on the vaccination program this month. All LGUs must actively participate in this very important endeavor,” he said.