Health workers’ group insists right to choose vaccine

Published March 1, 2021, 8:39 PM

by Andrea Aro

The All UP Workers Union-Manila said on Monday they support health workers’ right to choose which COVID-19 vaccine they prefer to be inoculated with.

The union said that there should be no intimidation and harassment against health workers on the vaccination program of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH)  as they will be vigilant and will document violations in relation to the program.

“We maintain that a safe and efficacious vaccine is what the health workers deserve,” it said in a statement released on Monday, March 1, the same day that the government rolled out its vaccination program using Sinovac vaccines in several government hospitals.

“We urge the government to make the safe and efficacious vaccine available to our health workers the soonest possible time. We demand that free treatment and hospitalization, compensation, and indemnification be ensured to all health workers who will suffer from the adverse effects following immunization,” the union added.

The health workers’ group said that the vaccine acceptance among PGH personnel dropped from 94 percent to 13 percent after learning that the vaccine made by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac will be given instead of the American-made Pfizer vaccine.

On Feb. 21, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)  to Sinovac vaccines initially only for healthy individuals between 18 and 59 years old. 

The agency did not recommend it for healthcare workers due to the vaccine’s varying levels of efficacy.

The union held a protest in front of the PGH on Feb. 26 insisting that health workers should be given evidence on the efficacy of the vaccines and to also clarify issues about the vaccine regulation and authorization. 

Around 600,000 doses of the Chinese-made vaccine arrived in the country on Sunday (Feb. 28) and were received by top government officials led by President Duterte.

Several government officials were administered the vaccines at the PGH and other government hospitals on Monday, March 1.

PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi was the first person in the country to be administered the COVID-19 vaccine. At least 96 health workers from the PGH have also been vaccinated, Legaspi said.