Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Saturday, May 15, appealed to the government task force handling the COVID-19 crisis to begin inoculations for economic and government frontliners under the A4 category of its priority list “as soon as possible”.
Zubiri issued the call following the delivery of million of coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines, raising the concern that these will end up spoiled in storage.
“So many vaccines have arrived in the country thanks to the efforts of Sec. Carlito Galvez and Sec. Vince Dizon. However, a lot of these vaccines are just sitting in storage, with many vaccination centers reporting a lack of people to vaccinate, under the A1 to A3 categories,” Zubiri said in his statement.
“As a matter of fact, I have been told that some vaccination centers have allowed walk-ins so as not to spoil the defrosted and opened vaccines,” he added.
He said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases should start vaccinating people in the following categories.
“I think it’s time that we open them up for the next level in the priority list, our A4 frontliners—our essential economic workers and our uniformed personnel. This category is really crucial for our goal of herd immunity,” he appealed.
He further said: “Frontline workers both in the private sector and in the government sector are easily prone to infection and thus need to be vaccinated soon. If we want to achieve herd immunity, we need to start vaccinating as many vulnerable people as possible.”
“Of course we have to continue our efforts of vaccinating our most vulnerable sectors, so we will keep reaching out to our health workers, senior citizens, and our persons with comorbidities. They will still be top priority, and should be given a fast lane at these centers.”
“But at the same time, we have to consider that the vaccines will expire if left unused, and we cannot afford to waste them. And if the A4 group is ready to be vaccinated, let’s get on with it,” Zubiri appealed.
Senator Joel Villanueva, meanwhile, called for the vaccination of parcel and food couriers.
He said this could help speed up the utilization of COVID-19 vaccines facing expiry.
Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee, said delivery riders deserve to be “rewarded and protected for unselfishly serving as the lifeline to the outside world by people locked down in their homes and communities.”
“And because they are in contact with many people every day, then all the more from a health perspective that these frontliners be vaccinated soon,” he pointed out.
He asked the IATF to to consider designating vaccination sites for the said workers.
Galvez earlier said that 5,155,957 COVID-19 vaccine doses in the country’s inventory as of May 13 must be dispensed “at the soonest possible time” due to their shelf life.
President Duterte has ordered the immediate distribution of the vaccines to local government units.