Senate bill seeks indemnification system for vaccinees

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Senator Nancy Binay has filed Senate Bill 2015 which seeks to create an indemnification fund to compensate vaccine recipients who sustain injury or any adverse effects from COVID-19 shots. FILE PHOTO

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 26) — A senator has filed a bill seeking to compensate COVID-19 vaccine recipients who sustain injury or any adverse effects from the shots, in an apparent move to boost confidence in the country's vaccination program amid Filipinos' safety concerns.

Senator Nancy Binay on Monday filed Senate Bill 2015 or the Vaccine Indemnification Fund Act, a measure which mandates pharmaceutical companies to contribute to the fund that will be used "to compensate and indemnify identified vaccine recipients who sustain injury in connection with the use of vaccines and where adverse effects are attributable to the vaccination."

Under the measure, firms which will be awarded government contracts for vaccine distribution must allot at least 1% of the contract price which shall form part of the indemnification fund.

"The reserved amount shall be deposited with the Bureau of Treasury of the Department of Budget and Management," the bill read.

The Vaccines Compensation Board consisting of government officials will be in charge of the fund management, with the Justice secretary serving as the chairperson and the Health secretary as the vice chairperson. Other members will be the secretaries of Budget and Management, Finance, and sectoral representatives from the healthcare industry, patient advocacy groups, and medical societies.

The initial implementation of the Act will be charged against the appropriations of the Department of Health in its current and subsequent budget, but the amount needed for its continued implementation will then be taken from the indemnification fund.

A recent survey by Pulse Asia revealed almost half of Filipinos said they will opt out of COVID-19 vaccination, mainly citing safety concerns.

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"This system will help protect and compensate the most marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society from any unanticipated adverse events resulting from vaccination," Binay said in her explanatory note.

The proposed measure will also remove "uncertainty of lawsuits for manufacturers and suppliers," and provide a "more fair, efficient, and stable approach" for vaccine recipients, she added.