Mark the date! COVID-19 vaccine rollout for essential workers, poor Pinoys to start June 7

Published June 2, 2021, 12:37 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The national government will start the vaccine rollout for economic frontliners and indigent population, or the A4 and A5 priority sectors respectively, on Monday next week, June 7.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, said on Wednesday, June 2, that the vaccination of A4 and A5 sectors was approved to further speed up the immunization program as the government targets to inoculate five million individuals against the coronavirus disease this month.

Galvez said the decision was made during a meeting by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), the country’s policy-making body on COVID-related matters.

“Mayroon po kaming tatawagin na symbollic rollout this coming June 7. It will be attended by high officials and secretaries. Ito ay ina-apply na ng maraming LGUs [local government units] considering we have to protect our economic and government workers (We will have a symbollic rollout this coming June 7. It will be attended by high officials and secretaries. This is actually being applied already by many LGUs considering we have to protect our economic and government workers),” Galvez said in a television interview over ABS-CBN’s “Headstart.”

Last May 1, Labor Day, the government conducted a “mini-rollout” for the vaccination of A4 workers where around 5,000 minimum wage earners and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were given the COVID-19 shot. However, Galvez said the IATF had yet to finish the guidelines for the vaccination of the A4 and A5 sector back then so it was not fully implemented.

However, Galvez said the IATF has since completed the guidelines which will now be the basis of the LGUs in vaccinating its economic frontliners and indigent population.

He said the vaccination of A4 and A5 will be divided into two groups: individuals aged 40 years old and up will be the priority which will be followed by people 39 years old and below.

“Noong nagkaroon kami ng IATF meeting, napagkasunduan na hatiin lang sa dalawa on each level so ang gagawin natin is 40 [years old] and up ang first priority and next is 39 [years old] and below. Nakita po natin sa science, medyo vulnerable po ang 40 and up at nakita natin sa edad normally ang mga 40 may maintenance na ‘yan. Logical lang at scientifically, ‘yon ang vulnerable. Ang LGUs may opt to use that prioritization (When we conducted an IATF meeting, we decided to split it to two on each level so what we will do is 40 and up willbe the first priority and next is 39 and below. We have seen in science that 40 and up are vulnerable and by age, normally they have a maintenance already. Logically and scientifically, they are the vulnerable ones. The LGUs may opt to use that prioritization),” he explained.

According to Galvez, those qualified in the A4 sector are the economic frontliners or private sector workers, government workers, and the informal workers such as drivers and dry and wet market workers.

Specifically, those qualified include private sector workers who are required to be physically present at their designated workplace outside their residences; employees in government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and local government units; and informal sector workers and self-employed who may be required to work outside their residences, and those working in private households.

“In the ground, we will allow some flexibility in the LGUs,” Galvez assured.

In a May 18 interview, Galvez had said that the vaccine rollout for the A4 and A5 will only cover the “NCR Plus 8” or Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao. These are considered focus areas since they have the highest number of cases and attack rate.

Citing data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Galvez had said that there were a total of 13 million people in the A4 category and 8.5 million in the A5 category in the NCR Plus.

The vaccination of the A4 and A5 was approved after the country secured a steady supply of vaccines in May, the vaccine czar noted.

As of May 30, the country has already obtained 8.3 million vaccine doses, of which, 8.1 million doses were already distributed while around 200,000 doses were reserved for second dose. More than half of the supply or around 4.3 million doses were delivered in May.