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Senate approves bill on Covid-19 vaccination program

The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 1 day ago Javier Joe Ismael
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THE Senate on Tuesday, February 23, passed on third and final reading the bill that seeks to expedite the purchase and administration of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines to Filipinos.

With 22 affirmative votes, the chamber, during a hybrid plenary session, approved Senate Bill (SB) 2057 or the “Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.”

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Committee on Finance and sponsor of the bill, said the measure would expedite the purchase and administration of Covid-19 vaccines to end the pandemic earlier and to jumpstart economic recovery in the country.

SB 2057, in consideration of SB 2056 (“Vaccine Indemnification Fund Bill”) authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd, is a consolidation of Senate bills and proposed resolutions authored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senators Angara, Pilar Juliana Cayetano, Maria Imelda Josefa Marcos, Mary Grace Poe and Ramon Revilla Jr.

Angara said the measure aims to expedite the procurement and administration of Covid-19 vaccines by authorizing the Department of Health and the National Task Force against Covid-19 to undertake negotiated procurement of vaccines and the needed supplies and services for their storage, transport and distribution.

It also allows provinces, cities and municipalities to purchase vaccines and needed supplies and services. Private entities can also purchase vaccines subject to similar restrictions and conditions set for local government units.

Vaccines will not be charged customs duties, value-added tax, excise tax, donor’s tax and other fees.

“Through the aforementioned steps, we hope to break down some regulatory barriers. We hope to free up some resources and empower as many government instrumentalities as we can towards the fast procurement and expeditious roll out of Covid-19 vaccinations,” Angara said.

The measure mandates the establishment of a special task group to be composed of medical and vaccine experts to conduct post-vaccination monitoring of patients.

Under the bill, a P500-million indemnity fund will also be created to compensate those who suffered serious adverse side effects. The money will be sourced from the Contingent Fund and will be administered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

The measure also mandates the issuance of Covid-19 vaccination cards that will serve as a record of all Covid-19 vaccinations received.

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