The government is needing extra months before it can start the vaccination of frontline workers, as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that scarcity of the current supply continues to affect inoculation efforts.
On Tuesday, April 20, NEDA recommended the inclusion of around 12.8 million frontline workers from nine industries to the A4 priority group.
However, Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said their actual inoculation is targeted to begin in July.
“We will continue to prioritize vaccinations for groups A1, A2, and A3. The government targets to begin the vaccination of the A4 priority group in July, as the vaccination of the first three groups nears completion,” Edillon said.
NEDA, the lead agency for the Recovery Cluster of the National Task Force against COVID-19, submitted its recommendations for the official list of priority sectors and eligible workers under the A4 priority group for vaccine deployment.
Sectors included in the A4 priority group are accommodations; transportation including logistics services; public administration and defense; manufacturing of food, beverages, as well as medical and pharmaceutical products.
Industries such as religious organizations; food service; financial services, except insurance; and basic and higher education are also included under the A4 priority group.
Examples of eligible workers are transport drivers or operators, food and small parcel delivery workers, market vendors, hotel and restaurant frontline workers, financial services frontline workers, and teaching personnel in educational institutions.
Likewise, public sector workers in charge of clearances, taxes, incentives, and field personnel of the Philippine Statistics Authority are also qualified.
In addition, overseas Filipino workers scheduled for deployment within two months may also be considered in the A4 group, as long as they provide a copy of their latest verified employment contract.
“We also project that vaccine supply will be widely available by September 2021, with enough doses to inoculate groups A1 to A4 and to begin vaccine deployment for the remaining adult population not included in the first four priority groups,” Edillon said.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the government is working to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines, which can help facilitate the gradual reopening of the economy.
“Given the scarcity of the current vaccine supply, NEDA has identified the sectors or groups that have high levels of interaction with the public, and are needed to ensure security, consumer and worker safety,” Chua said.
“By prioritizing these sectors, we are also indirectly protecting the millions who avail of their services,” he added.
Other priority groups are A1, or frontline workers in healthcare fields including janitors, barangay health workers, among others; A2 or senior citizens aged 60 and above; and A3, or Adults with comorbidities.