After drawing flak for saying Filipinos should not be picky on what Covid-19 vaccines will be administered to them, Palace spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday explained that the availability of vaccines was out of the government’s control.

“Pagdating po ng bakuna sa Pebrero hanggang Hunyo, wala po talagang pilian iyan kasi iisa lang po ang bakuna na magiging available, iyan nga po iyong galing sa Tsina,” he said in a Palace briefing.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that at least 65,000 Filipinos would be vaccinated using Sinovac vaccines in February.

Sinovac vaccines, which were found 78-percent effective by Brazil and 91.25-percent effective by Turkey, are set to be delivered monthly in the Philippines. Twenty-five million doses are expected to arrive in the Philippines by December.

Roque reiterated that those in priority sectors who would pass up the opportunity to get vaccinated would also have their vaccination privileges renounced.

“Sa Pebrero hanggang Hunyo, wala po talagang pagpipilian. Kaya nga po kung ayaw ninyo ng Sinovac, well, hindi kayo pipilitin,” Roque said.

“Kaya nga lang po, kung ikaw ay mayroong prayoridad, kung ikaw ay health workers, senior citizens at ayaw mo iyan, mawawalan ka ng prayoridad. Kailan ka uli magkakaroon ng bakuna na sana iyong gusto mong brand? Eh kapag tapos na po lahat ng may prayoridad, ibig sabihin pipila kayo with the rest of the Filipino population,” he added.

In a Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on Monday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the government’s goal was to restore normalcy in the country by 2023 with a “safe, equitable and cost-effective” vaccination of all Filipinos.

In the same hearing, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said 80 percent of the global supply of Covid-19 vaccines had already been procured by rich countries, leaving countries like the Philippines scrambling to ink deals with manufacturers.

Galvez said only 18 percent of the global supply of vaccines was available.

The “main volume” of the country’s Covid-19 vaccines will be sourced from Novavax. The country is negotiating for more or less 40 million doses from Pfizer, 25 to 30 million doses from AstraZeneca and 25 million doses each from Sinovac and Gamaleya, Galvez said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro