DOH: PhilHealth number not a requirement for vaccination

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    THE Department of Health yesterday said COVID-19 vaccinees who experience adverse events following immunization (AEFI) will be required to present their Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) identification number only when claiming benefits from the state agency.

    The DOH issued the clarification after PhilHealth issued a statement saying individuals intending to get the COVID-19 vaccine should be ready with their PhilHealth identification number (PIN) as it is a requirement for getting vaccinated.

    PhilHealth, quoting CEO and president Dante Gierran, said the PIN is a requirement to qualify for vaccination based on guidelines recently released by the Department of Health.

    The guidelines, it said, require that vaccine recipients need to be registered using unique identifiers, one of which is the vaccinee’s PIN.

    The health department said the PIN “is not a requirement for vaccination to register for and receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

    “To ensure PhilHealth coverage of Filipinos, who are not yet registered with PhilHealth, in cases of AEFI that need hospitalization, the government will set up registration booths at official vaccination sites to facilitate onsite PhilHealth registration,” said DOH.

    The PhilHealth statement said those who do not know their PINs can coordinate with any PhilHealth office or the agency.

    Members can verify their PIN by calling (02) 8441-7442 (office hours only); sending an SMS to their callback channel 0921-630-0009 using the format “PHIC callback PIN VERIF <space> Mobile Number or Metro Manila Landline <dash> Details of your Concern; or visit any local health insurance office or PhilHealth Express near them.

    For those still unregistered with PhilHealth, they have to fill out a PhilHealth member registration form that can be downloaded from https://www.philhealth.gov.ph/ downloads/ membership/pmrf_012020.pdf; send it to actioncenter@philhealth.gov.ph along with scanned copy or clear photo of any valid ID.

    Government is speeding up its vaccination drive which started on March 1.

    The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases recently ordered the simultaneous vaccination of the first three priority sectors, namely healthcare workers, senior citizens, and those with comorbidities.

    An official of the Food and Drug Administration reminded the public to get their shots only at government-designated immunization sites “so we are assured and we are confident that the vaccines that we receive are genuine.”

    FDA Deputy Director General Dr Oscar Gutierrez also said those being sold online are fake.

    “There are no legitimate vaccines sold online. So any vaccine sold online are falsified, fake, and they should not be in the online market,” he said.

    “I’m sure that the vaccines sold online are falsified and fake vaccines. They should not be patronized. Otherwise, they are only giving their money to the criminals,” he added.

    PRIVATE SECTOR

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the private sector still needs to enter into a tripartite agreement with the government and vaccine manufacturers because all currently available vaccines are have been granted only emergency use authorization (EUA) and are not for commercial use.

    To expedite the procurement of vaccines, he said the private sector need not join groups or associations as the government is ready to assist, even if only one company signifies to buy the jabs.

    “So ano po ang nagbago? Ang nagbago lang po ay iyong mga pribadong sektor, kung talagang gusto nilang umangkat, ipagbigay-alam lang po sa atin, sa ating vaccine czar, at gagawin po natin ang tripartite agreement (So what’s new here? The only thing that has changed is that if the private sector really wants to import vaccines, just inform the vaccine czar and the government will prepare the tripartite agreement),” Roque said.

    He issued the clarification after President Duterte, on Monday night, said he is allowing the private sector to procure COVID-19 vaccines “at will.”

    “We are allowing the private sector immediately to open buying of COVID vaccines, wherever they can get it because what the government has is only a limited amount,” Duterte said in his weekly address.

    Private companies have long been asking government to allow them to procure vaccines without going through the tripartite agreement.

    Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the private sector must still course its vaccine purchase through the tripartite agreement as the government will indemnify vaccinees who will have adverse reactions to the vaccine.

    Duterte last month signed the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 which provides for a P500-million indemnification fund.

    Galvez said the President’s directive is to expedite the process to remove the perception that the government is “controlling” the procurement of vaccines. — With Raymond Africa