Lawmaker hits lack of indemnification guidelines since start of COVID-19 vaccination program

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 21) — Gabriela Party Rep. Arlene Brosas on Wednesday lamented the lack of implementation guidelines on indemnifying vaccine recipients who may experience serious side effects after receiving a coronavirus shot more than a month since the local inoculation drive started.

"PhilHealth is currently finalizing the specific guidelines for approval of the board and then eventually the management," Dr. Mary Antonette Remonte of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation told a House hearing when Brosas asked for a copy of the indemnification guidelines.

"We have to study carefully the law as well as we have to consider the available resources as provided by law," Remonte added, noting that the "indemnification fund is new" and that PhilHealth does not have much experience in managing this.

In response, Brosas said she cannot grasp why that is the case.

"Hindi ko po maintindihan kung bakit wala tayong guidelines [until] now," she said.

[Translation: I cannot understand why we still do not have guidelines until now.]

"Delikado po ito sa mga mamamayan natin na nag-avail na kung nagkaroon man ng adverse effect sa kanila, paano natin ito maibibigay sa kanila," Brosas added.

[Translation: This is dangerous for our citizens who have availed of the vaccines. In the event of adverse effects, how are we going to compensate them?]

The COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February to speed up the immunization program. It allocated ₱500 million for the COVID-19 National Vaccine Immunity Fund.

The country has vaccinated over 1.5 million Filipinos since it began rolling out the immunization program on March 1.

The government is conducting simultaneous vaccination of healthcare workers, the elderly, and persons with comorbidities in light of the fresh surge in COVID-19 cases.

It aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos -- or 63 percent of the 110 million population -- this year to achieve herd immunity.