Medical frontliners on top of inoculation priority list
The initial 50,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses expected to arrive next month will “all go to health workers,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday.
At present, frontline health workers are first on the government’s list of the beneficiaries of the free COVID19 vaccines, followed by seniors, poor citizens, and uniformed personnel.
The first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive next month.
“Ang initial agreement po ‘no – although, hindi pa po ito in the form of a resolution – ay uubusin ang lahat ng health workers muna sa Pilipinas before we move on to the next sector (The initial agreement, although it has not been in the form of a resolution, is to inoculate all health workers in the Philippines before we move on to the next sector),” he said.
To properly identify the beneficiaries, Roque said the government will use the existing databases, including those related to seniors and poor citizens.
He noted that local government units have the list of seniors in their jurisdictions as well as those poor beneficiaries of the social amelioration program.
Roque said that the proposed inclusion of people with comorbidity as well as persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the list of priority beneficiaries of coronavirus vaccines is still under debate in the government pandemic task force.
The proposal to expand the priority list has gathered conflicting views from some government officials, Roque said in a television press briefing.
“I will divulge this, ha: Nag-propose po si Dr. (John) Wong, and I supported it, na after remaining senior citizens, before indigent population, those with comorbidities should be prioritized. Matindi po iyong debate (The debate was intense),” Roque said over state television.
Roque said he backed the proposal to vaccinate those with underlying medical conditions due to their vulnerability to the new coronavirus disease.
“I took the side of Dr. Wong kasi nga naman ay nandiyan naman iyong data na kapag ikaw ay diabetic, kapag ikaw ay mayroong sakit sa puso ay talagang prone ka na mamatay pa nga dito sa COVID-19 (I took the side of Dr. Wong because the data show that if you’re a diabetic or have a heart problem, you are really prone or even can even die from COVID19),” he said.
“I have a vested interest kaya ko po pinaglalaban iyong comorbidities ‘no. Pero wala pa pong resolution iyan, other than kung ikaw ay senior citizen at mayroon kang comorbidity, mayroon kang priority within a prioritized population (I have a vested interested so I am fighting for the inclusion of those with comorbidities. But there is no resolution yet other than if you’re a senior citizen and have comorbidity, you’ll get priority within a prioritized population),” he said.
Some officials, however, were opposed to the expansion of the vaccine priority list, Roque said.
“Ang kontra naman ay nagsasabi na, ‘Well, napakadali naman iyan, baka maging loophole iyan para mauna sa pila (Those opposed said, ‘Well, that will be every easy. It might become a loophole to get in front of the line),” he said.
“Pinagdidebatihan pa po iyong whether or not those with comorbidities and possibly with PWDs will also be in the list of priority. Sa ngayon po, ito pa lang ang ating list of priorities (It is still under debate whether or not those with comorbidities and possibly PWDs will also be in the list of priority. At present, this is the present list of priorities),” he said.
If the vaccine becomes available, Roque said he and the rest of the Cabinet are willing to be vaccinated.
The vaccination however will depend if they will qualify under the list of priorities set by the government, he added.
Roque had earlier said he would consult his doctor before getting inoculated against the virus.
The government has already forged supply deals with manufacturers of Sinovac, Covovax, and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines, which are expected to be delivered to the country this year.