Filipino doctors risk losing their license to practice if they give people COVID-19 shots as the government has not yet approved the use of vaccines, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
The Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration acknowledged they have caught wind of talk that lawmakers meet at “posh hotels for coffee” and are vaccinated in one of the rooms.
“We will investigate the illegal administration of unauthorized smuggled vaccines, specifically doctors and other medical professionals who administer them,” Duque said in a joint DOH-FDA statement issued Thursday.
“We will have their medical licenses revoked. We doctors have an oath. Do no harm. In a pandemic, we need to be more circumspect,” the statement added.
Duque said he did not believe that doctors were being coerced into administering shots.
“Someone is peddling the service and it is unacceptable,” he said.
Duque warned such a practice would “only make the situation worse.”
Earlier, Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante, commander of the Presidential Security Group, said his personnel received COVID-19 shots even though no vaccine has been approved yet for local use.
“Our frontliners have been struggling with the rising cases from the beginning,” Duque said. “The risks cannot be denied and may even prove fatal to some.”
FDA director-general Enrique Domingo said the Bureau of Customs has been advised to watch for unauthorized vaccine doses entering the country.
“We have sent our enforcement unit to the field and we are awaiting the report. We are fully committed to monitoring this,” Domingo said.
The FDA has received Pfizer’s application for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine before Christmas, which is currently under evaluation.
“We understand the urgency of the situation and we are carefully reviewing the documents they submitted and taking into account the possible risks to the public,” Domingo said. “We will make a decision at the soonest possible time.”