MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday denied claims it is favoring certain areas when it comes to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by American drug firm Pfizer-BioNTech.
The DOH issued the statement following reports that Davao City has received a substantial number of Pfizer jabs.
Davao City is President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that the national government is not giving any preferential treatment and that available vaccine doses in the country are allocated based on need and the prioritization framework.
“Wala pong paborito, base lang po sa pangangailangan, base lang po sa prioritization framework,” Vergeire said during a press briefing.
Reports claimed that Davao City got a huge number of Pfizer vaccine doses while other regions in Mindanao received fewer jabs.
But Dr. Adbullah Dumama Jr., DOH Undersecretary for the Visayas and Mindanao Field Implementation and Coordination team, said the 210,000 doses for Davao is for the whole region and not only for the City.
The same amount of Pfizer jabs were also allotted for Cebu Province, he added.
“Wala pong pagkakaiba yung doses na naibigay sa Cebu at sa Davao… Wala hong favoritism dito,” he said in the same briefing.
“Hindi po ito pang Davao City lang. Sa Davao region po ito at yung mga karatig pook na merong mga pangangailangan sa Pfizer,” he added.
Dumama also said that Davao and Cebu areas were given Pfizer shots because they have ultra-low freezers that are capable of storing the vaccine.
“Nabigyan lang ito ng ganun kalaki [na allocation], kung sa palagay ninyo ay malaki, ay dahil sa tayo ay mayroong capability, meron po tayong ultra-low temperature freezers dito. Doon ho sa ibang lugar, wala pa pero dahil sa dito lang ito, maaari kaming magbigay as ibang lugar na nangnangailangan,” he said.
According to Vergeire, there are only five areas in the country that have yet to receive Pfizer vaccines due to lack of appropriate vaccine storage capability. There are the Bangsamoro region, Caraga, Regions 12, 5 and Mimaropa.
The Bangsamoro government earlier said it will pass a resolution that would authorize the procurement of ultra-low freezers and increase its vaccination centers in the region.
The national government has announced it has inked a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for the purchase of 40 million doses, which may be delivered starting August this year.
The DOH said it is now preparing to capacitate all regions in the country to handle the storage of Pfizer vaccines.