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House approves COVID-19 vaccine indemnity fund amid pandemic

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill on the creation of an indemnity fund to cover COVID-19 vaccination amid the pandemic.

Voting 225-0-6, lawmakers approved House Bill 8648 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, which also aims to expedite the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines without having to go through the long process of public bidding.

Under the measure is the creation of a COVID-19 National Vaccine Indemnity Fund, which will be used to compensate any individual inoculated through COVID-19 vaccination program, in case of death, permanent disability, or hospitalization confinement.

"The amount of P500 million is hereby authorized to augment the funds of PhilHealth for this purpose which shall be sourced from the contingent fund as provided under Republic Act 11518 or the General Appropriations Act of 2021," the bill stated.

"The claim for indemnification for serious adverse event directly arising from the administration of COVID-19 vaccine must be filed within five years from the day of inoculation," it said.

The bill said the Inter-Agency Task Force should establish a special task group, composed of medical and vaccine experts, that will be directed to monitor if there will be negative effects of the vaccine.

The bill further states that provinces, cities and municipalities may procure or accept donations only in cooperation with the Department of Health and National Task Force through a multiparty agreement, which shall include the DOH and the relevant supplier or donor of COVID-19 vaccine.

"These LGUs shall procure no more than 50% of their target population for vaccination. Provided, further, that the 50% cap may be adjusted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases when there is sufficient supply of vaccines as determined by DOH and NTF," the bill said.

It also said the provision on advance payment shall apply to procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and ancillary supplies and services.

The measure added that LGUs may directly accept donation of vaccines as long as they have been procured through a multiparty agreement.

There will be a Vaccine Passport Program in the proposed measure, which will be the record of the vaccinations received by a certain individual.

This passport is intended to be digital and will note basic information of the person being vaccinated, the manufacturer of the vaccine, and the date of vaccination, among others.

The proposed measure will also exempt the procurement, deployment and administration of COVID-9 vaccines from import duties, taxes and other fees.

The said bill was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte last week. -NB, GMA News