The Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Friday called out media institutions continuing to publish disinformation on COVID-19 vaccines and said that misleading information on COVID-19 vaccines does more harm than good to Filipinos.

Contrary to insinuations that the Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) is only promoting one brand of vaccines, the DOH and the DOST said that the panel is guided by science in evaluating vaccines. Moreover, the VEP is objective in evaluating the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines being used in the country.

“In times of crisis, clear and effective communication can spell the difference between life and death. We have seen how crucial clear and effective communication is and it is for this very reason that we continue to expand our capacities to communicate always in pursuit of equipping Filipinos with the right knowledge to protect not only themselves but their loved ones as well,” said Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire.

Additionally, the DOH and DOST said that all vaccines are safe and effective in protecting against the severe form of COVID-19 and that COVID-19 vaccines would prevent hospitalization due to severe disease.

“We appeal primarily to our media partners to exercise caution when reporting potentially misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are safe and vaccines are effective and we all know this. Let us work together to help Filipinos better understand the benefits of vaccines. In times of crisis, vaccines can spell the difference between life and death,” explained Undersecretary Singh-Vergeire.

The DOST created the VEP as DOST is part of the vaccine selection and evaluation structure under the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). The VEP is composed of vaccine experts, technical experts, and scientists who will identify, evaluate, and recommend possible vaccine candidates for the Philippines.

Moreover, the government, through vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., is widening the country’s vaccine portfolio by securing more vaccines from manufacturers such as AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Novovax, Sputnik V, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer.

The government calls on everyone to be a BIDA+ citizen and share verified information with the public. Being a BIDA+ citizen includes fighting disinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time observing the minimum public health standards (MPHS).