The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is out to ensure that Filipino seafarers will get vaccinated properly under the government’s mass inoculation program against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), where they are now considered a priority sector.
“Tayo po ay makikipag-ugnayan sa mga ahensya na nag-iimplement ng vaccination at nang sa ganun ay magiging efficient po ang programang yan at sisiguruhin natin na yung mga seafarers natin bago sila makaalis ay makakuha ng tamang vaccination (We will coordinate with the agencies behind the implementation of the vaccination program so that our seafarers would get vaccinated properly before their deployment),” POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said Monday, April 19 in a virtual news forum.
Seafarers and the rest of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are now classified as A4 in the priority list. This classification involves frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel.
Olalia said that based on the guidelines, OFWs who are scheduled for deployment two months from the time their were issued their Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) are included under the A4 category.
Philippine labor officials have noted that more and more foreign employers are requiring their recruits to have themselves inoculated from the COVID-19 before undergoing deployment. This includes Filipino seafarers in the cruise and shipping industries.
However, getting vaccinated in the Philippines–a country of over 110 million people–is not an easy proposition given the sheer dearth of anti-COVID jabs. Most of the vaccines the country has acquired have come from donations from other nations, thus the need to prioritize certain sectors.
A1 covered frontline healthcare workers. A2 covered senior citizens while A3 referred to persons with comorbidities.
“Hopefully lahat ng naka-categorized na A4, ideally dapat lahat sila mabakunahan (Hopefully and ideally, all those under A4 must be vaccinated),” Olalia stressed. He said this includes both seabased and landbased OFWs.