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Cebu City forms board to plan COVID-19 vaccine procurement

While neighboring cities in the Visayas have already secured tripartite agreements with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, Cebu City is still putting together a board to iron out the procurement and rollout of the city’s program. 

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said during a press conference on Wednesday, January 13, that the board would be in charge of deciding which manufacturers the city would prefer.

The mayor said, however, that he is already aware that most residents prefer that the local government procure another brand instead China-made Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, the choice of the national government.

What is the reason Cebu City has not been able to sign a deal yet?

"According to Secretary Galvez, local government units (LGUs) or any private group for that matter cannot unilaterally order a vaccine without being approved by the national government. This is to monitor efficacy, the kind of vaccine, and maybe the track record of the company," Labella told reporters. 

Labella explained that LGUs need national government approval for vaccine procurement, requiring a tripartite agreement among the national government, the local government, and the vaccine manufacturer. 

Other local governments in the Visayas, however, have already entered into multilateral agreements with vaccine manufacturers including Ormoc City in Leyte and Bacolod City.

As for the possible vaccine manufacturers, Labella said Cebu City is among the 3 LGUs eligible for the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna since it houses a Zuellig facility capable of storing them at the required temperature.

As of Wednesday, Cebu City is eyeing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Pfizer vaccines, however, would only be available around June or July at the earliest.

AstraZeneca is also an option for the city, and is the choice of the majority of LGUs who have signed tripartite agreements.

Labella said the city’s board will come up with the final recommendation.

The city set aside an initial P400 million in its 2021 budget for for vaccine procurement. The Cebu City Council plans to pass a supplementary budget for another P100 million to meet the projected P500 million it needs to vaccinate all residents.

Rappler has sought further comments from Labella on the city’s vaccine plans, but it has not yet received a response as of this posting. – Rappler.com