President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday signed into law a bill that will expedite the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and establish a compensation fund for those who get adverse effects from the jabs.
Duterte signed the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 which will allow local government units and the private sector to purchase COVID-19 vaccines through the Department of Health and the National Task Force on COVID-19 response.
The President earlier certified the measure as urgent upon the prodding of the country's COVID-19 immunization czar, Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr.
The law also forms a P500 million indemnity fund to compensate persons who will receive COVID-19 jabs and would experience serious adverse side effects or even death. The fund will be managed by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp or PhilHealth.
Galvez earlier said an indemnity fund was needed as a requirement of COVID-19 vaccine makers given that the drugs will be used based on emergency use authorization.
This means that the vaccines are not yet licensed for commercial sale and are only for use during public health emergencies of international concern, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
The signing of the law comes just days before the Philippines is set to receive its initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines from China's Sinovac.
Some 600,000 vaccine doses are expected to arrive on Sunday, paving the way for the start of the country's mass vaccination program which targets to inoculate some 70 million people this year.