PRIVATE companies should be allowed to use the coronavirus vaccines they bought as booster shots for workers and their family members to prevent wastage, senators said, citing a government policy that prevents them from doing so without approval from the national task force handling the pandemic.   

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara in a statement Wednesday backed the appeal of 26 business groups who said that “vaccines are arriving faster than they can be dispensed,” fearing that procured vaccines will expire.  

“I totally agree, if there is still vaccine hesitancy then go ahead with the booster shots to A4,” said Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, who chairs the Senate Cooperatives committee, in a Viber message Wednesday. “Let’s not waste the vaccines.”  

The A4 priority group includes economic front liners, personnel who work on-site, and government employees.  

“We understand that there is still a huge portion of our adult population that remains unvaccinated,” said Mr. Angara, “but when we have a situation where vaccines are available and are about to expire, then we should consider the call of the private sector, who are prepared to use them right away.”  

“The Department of Health and our Vaccine Czar should have an idea of the current supply of vaccines. If there is enough to accommodate the request of the private sector, then this should be done as soon as possible,” he added.  

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire has said that private companies with excess vaccines nearing expiry are not allowed to give them to their workers as booster doses unless these employees are senior citizens or part of the list of immunocompromised individuals.  

“If you think these will be wasted or will expire soon, you can undertake this loaning agreement from the national government, where the national government will take the doses currently on hand and will exchange them for fresh stock once the company needs them,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan