Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta Thursday to already get her vaccine against COVID-19, saying she needed protection from the coronavirus.
“I am appealing to PAO chief Acosta, because I think she is about to become a senior citizen, that she should be given additional protection from COVID-19 through vaccination,” Duque said. television interview that she chose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 due to age and various health reasons, adding she was waiting for a protein-based vaccine.
Currently, the available COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines are mRNA or RNA (ribonucleic acid)-based such as Moderna and Pfizer’s, inactivated (Sinovac, Sinopharm), and adenovirus or viral vector-based (Janssen, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V).
Novavax, which is unavailable yet in the country, is a protein-based vaccine. In late December, the vaccine was authorized for use by European Union regulators and the World Health Organization.
Without a vaccine, Acosta may be in danger if she contracts COVID-19, Duque said.
“We do not want her to be in danger, especially if it becomes a severe to critical COVID-19 infection because we know that most senior citizens experience this… and as she mentioned earlier, she has comorbidities. So, all the more she needs to be vaccinated,” he said.
Secretary Menardo Guevarra of the Department of Justice, which has jurisdiction over the PAO, said he advised Acosta to comply with existing government rules regarding onsite work for unvaccinated personnel.
He said he advised her as well “to ensure a COVID-safe working environment in her agency without sacrificing efficiency.”
“Personnel reporting for on-site work should be vaccinated. Those who have yet to get their jab must at least undergo RT-PCR or antigen testing once every two weeks if they work onsite,” said Guevarra, citing IATF rules.
Senator Franklin Drilon, a former Justice Secretary, said Acosta should be barred from physically reporting to work because of her current vaccination status.
Acosta, reacting to the comments of Duque and Drilon, maintained that COVID-19 vaccination was just an experiment.
“The vaccine does not have a certification of product registration to prove its safety, efficacy and quality. Only an emergency use authorization was issued,” she told a radio interview over dzRJ.
“Since it is an experiment, do not force a person to get a jab if he or she does not want to,” she said.
“I broke my silence over the issue of vaccination because comments flooded my email and messenger. I have all kinds of vaccination, except the one for COVID-19. I am not anti-vaccine but I am just waiting for the protein-based vaccine.”
She claimed there were requests for an autopsy of those who died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine but PAO declined to do so.
She took a swipe at Duque, saying he would be spared from any culpability under Republic Act 11525 or An Act Establishing the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination Program should a person who received the jab die due to its complications.