National Vaccination and Vaccine Cards: Primer on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 (Republic Act No. 11525)

The policy directives and general guidelines for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program are contained in Republic Act No. 11525, also known as the “COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.” R.A. 11525 was signed by the President on 26 February 2021. All vaccines procured by any entity must be registered with the Philippine Food and Drug administration (FDA), as evidenced by a valid Certificate of Product Registration or Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). COVID-19 vaccines imported shall be exempt from import duties, taxes and other fees. Here are the salient points of RA 11525.

Agencies authorized to negotiate and procure the vaccines.

The Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) are authorized to procure COVID-19 vaccines, including any supplies services necessary for storage, transport, deployment, and administration.

The DOH and the NTF may act jointly with any national government agency or local government unit (LGU). 

Bidding requirement for the purchase of vaccines.

There is no requirement for a bidding. The DOH and NTF may purchase COVID-19 vaccines through negotiated purchase. They may negotiate the price and payment terms, making sure that there is price uniformity and to prevent price competition. 

Procurement by LGUs.

The DOH and NTF may negotiate on behalf of LGUs. After negotiations by the DOH and NTF, LGUs may enter into supply agreements, purchase orders or any similar arrangements. The LGUs may make advance payments for the vaccines. These provisions retroact to 1 January 2021. 

Procurement cap for LGUs.

Any LGU may procure not more than 75% of their target population for vaccination. The 75% cap may be adjusted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF-EEID), upon determination by the DOH that there is sufficient vaccine supply. 

LGUs may directly accept direct donations of FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. 

Order of priority.

Vaccines funded by the national government:

  1. healthcare workers
  2. senior citizens
  3. persons with comorbidities
  4. frontline personnel in essential services, including uniformed personnel and teachers
  5. indigent population

Vaccines funded by LGUs:

  1. frontline workers in health facilities
  2. senior citizens
  3. indigent persons

The LGUs are allowed to formulate their own recipient list and implement their own operational procedures in accordance with national policies and procedures. 

 Procurement by private entities. 

Private entities may procure COVID-19 vaccines, but with the cooperation with the DOH and NTF through a multiparty agreement. The vaccine shall be for the exclusive use of such private companies or entities. The order of priority shall be:

  1. the entity’s healthcare workers
  2. senior citizens
  3. economic frontliners
  4. essential worers

List of persons vaccinated.

The LGUs are required to submit to DOH a masterlist of the names and profiles of the residents who were vaccinated, subject to the provisions of the Data Privacy Act.

COVID-19 Vaccine Card.

The DOH shall issue a vaccine card to ALL persons vaccinated, subject to the provisions of the Data Privacy Act. The DOH may delegate the processing and issuance of vaccine cards to LGUs and private entities. The falsification of vaccine cards is a criminal offense.

The issuance of a vaccine card is intended to be digital, but shall remain accessible through other means such as printed cards. The DOH shall maintain a central database of vaccinations and mandate a uniform format for the vaccine card. 

The vaccine card shall not be considered an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment and other similar government transactions purposes. 

Immunity from liability.

Public officials and employees, contractors, manufacturers, volunteers, and representatives of duly authorized private entities who are authorized to carry out the COVID-19 Vaccination Program are immune from suit and liability under Philippine laws, except in case of willful misconduct or gross negligence. 

Vaccine indemnity.

Compensation shall be provided in case of death, permanent disability or hospital confinement of persons inoculated through the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, administered through the Philhealth. 

P&L Law

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