MANILA — As the Sinovac coronavirus vaccines are in transit and due to arrive Sunday, 28 February, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are having second thoughts or a change of heart, perhaps, as regards the vaccine they want jabbed on their shoulders. They say they can choose not to get the Sinovac shots allocated for them. But the downside is they will have to pay for whatever they prefer.
“Our soldiers can choose a different vaccine brand,” AFP spokesperson MGen. Edgard Arevalo said in Filipino during a briefing aired on state-run People’s Television. “But since these are not the vaccines allotted for the AFP, they will need to pay for the vaccine brand that they will get.”
Although it is unclear how the armed forces can procure coronavirus vaccines from drug makers of their choice as they mostly are granted emergency use authorizations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not yet sold in the market. They need product registration certificates also from the FDA before they can be sold.
Arevalo did not explain either how the troops who prefer a different brand would pay for vaccines, but only says this is a “concept” available to them.
“If they really want to opt for another brand apart from the effective vaccine that we have allocated for our soldiers, then they can exercise that option,” he says partly in Filipino.
100,000 doses of the 600,000 Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines, set to arrive today, are earmarked for military personnel. The AFP targets 100 personnel a day in all of 47 vaccination centers located across the country.
“We give our soldiers protective equipment during battle because they will fight a fierce enemy. We cannot allow it to be optional if they want to wear protective equipment or not,” he said in Filipino. (JSM/JuanManila)
Featured image: Military chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana during a visit in the Western Mindanao Command at Camp Navarro in Calarian, Zamboanga City, 19 Feb. 2021. (Photo credit: Interaksyon)