Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that she has been vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
During the Laging Handa public briefing on Tuesday, May 11, Briones said that she already received the COVID-19 jab. However, she refused to name the brand of vaccine used on her because Filipinos are quite conscious when it comes to brands.
“By the way, I am already vaccinated and absolutely, there are no side effects in my case,” Briones said in a mix of English and Filipino. “We [Filipinos] are very brand conscious, we want specific brands but we are assured [by experts] that what is available, that is the brand that is recommended,” she added.
Briones noted that getting inoculated against COVID-19 is a step towards eventual resumption of limited face-to-face classes once allowed by President Duterte.
“We are very hopeful and we anticipate that the time will come, especially since the vaccines are already made available,” she explained.
In February, Briones said that she will “abide” by the government’s decision on COVID-19 vaccine in consultation with her doctors.
Briones, 80, leads the DepEd after she was appointed by the President in 2016.
Pre-COVID, Briones was very active in visiting schools nationwide. Albeit virtually, she continues to be active in meetings and other related activities to ensure that education will continue amid the pandemic.
In April 2020, Briones announced that she tested positive for SARS-COV-2, the causative agent for COVID-19, after getting a confirmation from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). She was asymptomatic.
Despite being in isolation, she continued to attend virtual meetings of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) as well as meetings with DepEd officials. After completing the isolation period, Briones tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
In a statement issued earlier, Briones also urged personnel in higher priority groups to register for COVID-19 vaccination.
“We would like to encourage all of our personnel to coordinate with their local government units so they can be vaccinated against COVID-19. This will play a huge role in our bid for our learners’ return to school,” Briones said.
In the issuance released by the DepEd Task Force COVID-19 (DTFC), the DepEd reminded all of its personnel who are part of higher priority groups, such as school health staff, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities, that they can register already for vaccine shots ahead of the roll-out for the A4 priority category.
DepEd hopes to start vaccinating the rest of its teaching and non-teaching personnel by June 2021 after the IATF approved the appeal of Briones to adjust the vaccine prioritization for teaching and non-teaching personnel from category B1 to A4.
A4 group is next in line in the government vaccination priority list, after A1 (medical frontliners), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (with comorbidities).
Briones also appealed to DepEd personnel to rely on credible and official sources such as the Department of Health’s (DOH) and LGUs’ websites and social media accounts for accurate information about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, and vaccination program.
“I am encouraging everyone to be proactive in learning about the vaccine and the vaccination program, and to make an informed choice about the matter,” Briones said – highlighting the education sector’s important role to be advocates for the vaccination.