Health workers won’t lose priority status if they reject first available COVID-19 vaccine, Roque says

Published February 26, 2021, 12:51 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The country’s health care workers can refuse the first available coronavirus vaccine without losing their priority status in the vaccination line, Malacañang said Thursday.


Ahead of the arrival of the Sinovac vaccines in the country, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified that the medical frontliners would not be forced to take a certain vaccine if they prefer to wait for another brand. 

The country’s Food and Drug Administration recently approved Sinovac Biotech’s coronavirus vaccines for emergency use, paving the way for the delivery of the 600,000 doses this Sunday.

The vaccines have not been recommended for health workers due to varied efficacy levels but can be used for heathy people age 18 to 59.

“Puwede naman nating ibigay iyan sa mga medical frontliners na talaga namang first priority natin. Wala pong pilitan (It can be given to medical frontliners who are really our first priority but it won’t be compulsory),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, Feb. 25, about the Sinovac vaccines.

“‘Yung gustong mag-antay nga po ng ibang brand siguro ang concession na maibibigay sa kanila is puwede silang humindi at puwede silang mag-antay without losing their priority kasi iyan naman po ang nakasulat sa EUA (To those who want to wait for other brands, maybe the concession we can give them is they can decline and wait without losing their priority because that’s stated in the EUA),” he added.

Roque maintained that the “order of priority” of vaccine recipients will still be followed.

“Lahat ng health professionals will still enjoy the sectoral priority dahil uubusin po muna natin ang lahat ng medical professionals, medical frontliners before we go to the geographical priorities (All health professionals still enjoy the sectorial priority because we will vaccine all medical professionals, medical frontliners before we go to the geographical priorities),” he said.

With vaccine orders reaching more then 160 million doses, the government aims to vaccinate up to 70 million Filipinos this year.

Early this month, the government pandemic task force released the list of priority groups in the free vaccination program.

First on the list are frontline workers in health facilities including health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, and barangay health workers.

Seniors citizens and persons with comorbidities will be next on the vaccination line, followed by frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel as well as the indigent population.

Other priority groups are teachers, social workers and other government workers; other essential workers; socio-demographic groups at higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people; overseas Filipino workers; remaining workforce; and the rest of the population.