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DOH pushes CDC bill, awaits lead on calamity state

The Department of Health on Friday urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to fast-track a measure in Congress creating the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The agency pressed for the swift passage of the bill after Marcos said he was “very hesitant” to extend the state of calamity for COVID-19.

The DOH also said the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program would be affected if the state of calamity—which ends today, December 31—is not extended by the Chief Executive.

In a message to reporters, the DOH said it already submitted recommendations to the President regarding the extension of the state of calamity due to COVID.

“If the extension will not be approved, we can still continue with the COVID-19 vaccination program using existing doses considering their validity is hinged on their Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs). But we cannot procure additional doses, including the (newer) bivalent vaccines,” the DOH said.

On the CDC bill, the department said it was working with the Presidential Legislative and Liaison Office to fast track its passage through Congress.

“We have requested the same to be certified as urgent by the President,” it added.

Once passed into law, the CDC Act will serve as legal basis for the continued and uninterrupted implementation of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program and response for other future public health emergencies, without the need for the declaration of a state of calamity.

House Bill 6522 was approved on final reading in the House of Representatives. However, Congress went on Christmas recess on Dec. 17 and the Senate has yet to act on the measure.

The agency also warned that the number of vaccinators would 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.

Meanwhile, the DOH noted it is open to alternatives that can ensure an undisrupted vaccination program.

“For instance, we were informed that a special authority to purchase may be granted. Let us wait on the decision of the President,” it added.

Marcos said Thursday he was not keen on extending the state of calamity as “we are not in a state of calamity anymore, technically speaking.”

“And that is the wrong mindset to be approaching the new year with.

So, we’re still trying to find ways to continue to provide the benefits to our medical health workers, which is the main issue without the state of calamity,” he said.

“If the extension will not be approved, we can still continue with the COVID-19 vaccination program using existing doses considering their validity is hinged on their Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs),” the DOH said.

“But we cannot procure additional doses, including the bivalent vaccines. 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,” it added.

The Health Department is also in discussion with vaccine manufacturers and COVAX facilities “to secure bivalent vaccines this coming year.”

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Credit belongs to : www.manilastandard.net

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