The Department of Health (DOH) said it is open to alternative ways about the Covid-19 vaccination program after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s hesitance on extending the Covid-19 state of calamity next year. 

“[The] DOH is open to alternatives that can ensure an undisrupted vaccination program,” the agency said in a statement.

“If the extension will not be approved, we can still continue with the Covid-19 vaccination program,” the department also said.

Earlier, Marcos Jr. expressed hesitance in extending the state of calamity in the country due to Covid-19.

“I’m still very, very hesitant to continue the state of calamity, to extend it because again we are not in a state of calamity anymore, technically speaking,” Marcos said.

“And that is the wrong mindset to be approaching the new year with,” he added.

The state of calamity due to the Covid-19 pandemic ends on Dec. 31. The DOH sought an extension of the declaration as the bill establishing the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control has not yet been enacted.

A calamity declaration gives the government the power to use quick response funds and control the prices of essential goods. It is also the basis for the government’s vaccination program. 

The health department also added that the government is also looking at the possibility of granting a special authority to purchase vaccines without a state of calamity.

“Also, it is expected that the number of vaccinators will decrease as other cadres such as pharmacists may no longer be tapped, and willingness to vaccinate may decrease as immunity from liability is not guaranteed,” the agency stressed.

The DOH said that they had already brought their recommendations to Marcos.

Ronald Espartinez