The government is “not perfect” in implementing the vaccination protocols after some “breaches” were made in the recent immunization of non-health workers, according to a Palace official.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said they have learned from the incident when two government officials received the COVID-19 jab ahead of health workers. Under the government’s policy, health workers must get top priority in the vaccination program to boost their protection from the illness.
Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chief of staff Michael Salalima however were reportedly among those who received their CoronaVac vaccines during the vaccine rollout Tuesday at a hospital in Pasay City.
“Okay, hindi po tayo perfect sa pagpapatupad nitong protocol, nagkaroon tayo ng kakaunting breaches pero we have learned from the breaches and not everyone knows medical frontliners muna (Okay, we are not perfect in implementing the protocol. We had some breaches but we learned from the breaches and not everyone knows medical frontliners should get priority),” he said during a televised press briefing Thursday, March 4.
Roque however took up the cudgels for Malaya and Salalima, saying they were merely “prodded” by the hospital officials of the Pasay City General Hospital to be vaccinated.
The two officials were among those present during the vaccine rollout at the Pasay hospital.
“The two naman, in good faith, thought that they were doing the nation a service by having themselves vaccinated kasi nga mataas pa iyong tinatawag nating distrust sa bakuna (due to the high distrust in vaccines),” he said.
“So upon being prodded and being offered and guided by their own desire to increase public confidence in the vaccine ay nagpabakuna po sila (they got vaccinated),” he added.
Roque admitted that the list of priority vaccine recipients, approved by the interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group’s (NITAG), was “not disseminated properly.”
“Iyon po iyon, talagang in good faith, hindi daw po alam ni Usec. Malaya na ipinagbawal na ng NITAG. It was done in good faith. Usec. Malaya claimed he did not know that NITAG had such restriction),” he said. With the latest incident, Roque said “everyone should now know” that medical frontliners must get priority in the vaccination line.
Early February, 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 vaccine recipients, followed by frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel as well as the indigent population.
The next priority groups will be 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.
The government earlier said all medical frontliners must be vaccinated before the other priority sectors are given the inoculations.
Authorities have started to distribute the country’s initial supply of Chinese-made vaccines to public and private hospitals across the country.