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Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said residents of the city are free to choose which brand of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) vaccine they want to receive, according to a report by Manila Bulletin.

This after Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Filipinos cannot afford to be picky with COVID-19 vaccines. 

“Pwede ba maging choosy sa Manila? Pwedeng pwede (Is it okay to be choosy in Manila? Very much so),” Domagoso said in an interview with DZRH on Wednesday. 

“Everybody will be given opportunity to choose. Malaya. Sapagkat hindi natin pupwedeng isubo ‘yung kaning mainit na iluluwa lang ng tao (Free. Because we cannot feed them hot rice that they will just spit out),” he added.

The Manila city government has entered an agreement with British-Swedish biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the advance purchase of 800,000 COVID-19 vaccines. 

But Domagoso said they will procure more vaccines from other companies should there be any available. 

After announcing that the country has secured 25 million vaccine doses from Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, Roque said Filipinos should not be picky because there are a lot of people in the country who have to be vaccinated.

“Totoo po, meron tayong lahat na karapatan para sa mabuting kalusugan pero hindi naman po pwede na pihikan dahil napakaraming Pilipino na dapat turukan (It’s true, we all have a right to good health but we should not be choosy because there are so many Filipinos who need to be vaccinated),” he said in a public briefing. 

The government has earned flak from lawmakers and the public for their apparent preference for CoronaVac, Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite it reportedly being more expensive than other vaccines. It has also yet to apply for an emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

The Manila mayor said the public should not be blamed for being hesitant to be vaccinated because they may not be properly informed about the properties of the vaccines.

He said he will not allow the distribution of a vaccine that has not applied for emergency use authorization in the city.

“Kailangan may EUA katulad sa bansang kanilang pinanggalingan (They must have an EUA like in the country from which they came from)…it has to have that kind of permit,” he said. “‘Pag walang EUA, hindi ko ilalatag (If they do not have an EUA, I will not allow it).”

However, Domagoso also appealed to the public to “continue to believe in the system” and have themselves vaccinated against COVID-19.

“While it is true na mayroon tayong mga agam-agam (that we have our hesitations), we will continue to believe in the system and we will act in synchrony with the national government,” he said. 

“Labanan natin ‘yung fear kasi pinangarap natin ‘tong lahat, pinangarap natin na dumating na ‘yung bakuna (We must fight our fears because we all dreamed about this, we dreamed that a vaccine will come),” he added.

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