Biz groups to gov't: Let us use our COVID-19 vaccines as boosters

The Philippines' largest business groups urged the government to allow the private sector to use their purchased COVID-19 vaccines as booster shots for their employees and families.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, November 23, 26 groups pointed out that boosters are necessary since vaccine efficacy wanes beyond six months. Another surge in coronavirus cases could shut down the economy again.

The business groups also emphasized that the country no longer has a vaccine shortage, but instead has a distribution problem. The vaccine stockpile, so far, has reached close to 60 million.

"We no longer have a shortage, and with such a large stockpile, we risk having vaccines expire and go to waste," the groups said.

"With the oversupply, the private sector asks the government to allow it to use these vaccines to take care of their employees and dependents as their contribution to accelerating national vaccination."

The signatories of the statement are:

  • ACI Philippines
  • Association of Certified Public Accountants in Public Practice
  • Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
  • Cebu Business Club
  • Cebu Leads Foundation
  • Chamber of Thrift Banks
  • CIBI Foundation
  • European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
  • Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines
  • Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry
  • Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Philippines
  • Investment House Association of the Philippines
  • IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines
  • Intellectual Property Association of the Philippines
  • Management Association of the Philippines
  • Money Market Association of the Philippines
  • Makati Business Club
  • Nordic Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
  • Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines
  • Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (GoNegosyo)
  • Philippine Life Insurance Association
  • Procurement and Supply Institute of Asia
  • Shareholders' Association of the Philippines
  • Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines
  • Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines
  • Tax Management Association of the Philippines

The Department of Health earlier said private companies cannot give their extra COVID-19 vaccines to employees because the emergency use authorization (EUA) for these shots was limited to health workers, senior citizens, and immunocompromised individuals.

"To the companies that procured additional doses, you are not allowed to give these to employees as booster doses unless they are part of the senior citizens and immunocompromised as stated in the EUA. Other than that, you cannot use those," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Vergeire said private companies can give their extra doses to the government to prevent vaccine wastage. The national government can get the stocks and replenish them later on once firms can already use them.

The government has allowed health workers, the elderly, and people with serious comorbidities to get a third COVID-19 vaccine dose. –

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.