Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday urged the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to move teachers up in the priority list for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate basic education committee, said he supports a similar call from at least 33 education, business and medical groups who signed a position paper calling on the government to move teachers from B1 to the A4 priority list.
A4 priority list includes frontline personnel in essential sectors. The category also includes uniformed personnel and those belonging to other essential sectors.
Under the current prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan, teachers have been placed in the B1 priority list together with social workers.
In the said plan, teachers can receive their jabs after frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens, persons with co-morbidities, those in the indigent population, and those in the A4 list have been vaccinated.
Gatchalian stressed that teachers are also frontliners, risking their health and safety to ensure learning continuity for more than 26 million learners in the basic education sector.
He stated that inoculating teachers as quickly as possible would hasten the safe reopening of schools and curb adult-to-adult transmission of the virus when face-to-face classes resume.
The lawmaker also cited the example of Indonesia, which inoculated teachers ahead of vulnerable groups.
Last year, international bodies like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) called on governments to prioritize teachers in the COVID-19 vaccination program.