NTF urged to speed up COVID-19 vaccines for health workers; stay faithful to priority list

Published February 23, 2021, 1:55 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) should speed up the procurement of vaccines that are effective for the country’s healthcare workers and stay faithful to its priority list.

(Photo by Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP / FILE PHOTO)

Sen. Risa Hontiveros made the appeal after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not recommend Sinovac for health workers, even though it has given the China-made vaccines an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

Sinovac is also scheduled to arrive in the country as the first vaccine against COVID-19.

The NTF, Hontiveros said, should still stick to the vaccination program as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) by speeding up the purchase agreements of vaccines that are effective for healthcare workers given their high exposure to COVID-19.

The senator warned that rearranging the priority list could lead to further compromise later on in the vaccination program.

“We have to remain faithful to the list from the very start. If not, this might lead to people cutting the line. Magkakagulo lang (There would be chaos),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Baka mahuli na naman ang health workers. Late na nga ang allowance ng frontliners, late pa yung bakuna. Wala ba tayong utang na loob sa healthcare workers natin (Our health workers may come in late again in the vaccination program. The allowance for our frontliners is already late, the vaccines would be late too. Don’t we owe our healthcare workers?),” she pointed out.

Since Sinovac is also recommended only for 18 to 59 years old only, all the more should the NTF secure the purchase of sufficient quantities of other brands of vaccines, the lawmaker stressed.

She also said the NTF should be upfront about the status of its negotiations with vaccine manufacturers and suppliers.

“What’s the stage of our negotiation? Are we going to have a supply delivery soonest? Is the NTF dragging its feet because there is something slowing it down? The NTF should be thinking two steps ahead every time,” she reiterated.

“After all they’ve done for us, the least we can do is make the health of our health workers a priority. Our healthcare system will completely collapse without their service and dedication,” she said.“Let’s ease their anxiety by making sure they can go home safely to their families soon. We cannot abandon them by dilly-dallying,” she emphasized.