Malacañang said health workers will not be forced to take the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac if they do not want. The medical frontliners will not lose their priority status if they refuse the shot for another brand.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the recommendation to allow the use of CoronaVac on healthcare workers despite the 50.4-percent efficacy rate.
In an interview over State-run PTV-4 on Saturday morning, Roque said health care workers will be given the chance to choose the vaccine brand of their choice without losing their priority status.
“Binibigyan ang healthcare workers ng pagkakataong pumili ng bakuna na nais nila. Walang sapilitan. Walang mahuhuli sa pila, walang mawawala sa pila (Healthcare workers will be given the chance to choose the vaccine they want. We will not force them. They won’t be pushed to the back of the line nor be removed from the queue),” he said.
“Kung ayaw po ng healthcare worker ng Sinovac, pwede siyang tumanggi at hindi mawawala yung kanyang prayoridad pag dumating na ang bakuna na gusto niya (If the healthcare workers do not really want the Sinovac, they can refuse and they won’t lose their priority status once their preferred vaccine arrives),” he added.
However, Roque said this special rule will only apply to health workers because of the condition in the emergency use authorization (EUA) that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Sinovac.
“Pang-healthcare workers lang po ‘yan. Sa lahat po, kinakailangan pa rin talaga kung ano ang naririyan ay tatanggapin natin (That is for our healthcare workers only. For everyone else, we still have to accept whatever is available),” he said.
“Kung ayaw naman po, eh wala talagang sapilitan (But if you still do not want it, we will not force you),” he added.
Malacañang earlier said those who will refuse the vaccine that will be given by the government will be moved to the end of the line as the shot allocated for that person will be given to another.
The FDA had allowed the emergency use of CoronaVac on healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 but not including healthcare workers. The National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) and the Department of Health’s (DOH’s) Technical Advisory Group later on recommended for the vaccines to be given to healthcare workers after Roque said that President Duterte was perplexed about the condition.
On Friday evening, Malacañang expressed confidence that many of the country’s healthcare workers will get themselves inoculated with CoronaVac.
The first batch of the Sinovac vaccine is expected to arrive on Sunday, February 28. President Duterte is also set to grace the arrival of 600,000 doses donated by the Chinese government.