Are work-from-home employees allowed to get COVID-19 vaccines?

Published June 8, 2021, 2:05 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

After the national government kicked off the vaccination program for economic and government frontliners (A4), questions arise whether work-from-home (WFH) employees are also qualified to get the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine even if they are not going out of their homes and exposing themselves to the virus.

Essentially, work-from-home employees can get the COVID-19 shot but they are not the priority, said National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 spokesperson Restituto Padilla Jr.

Vaccinators inoculate workers belonging to the A4 priority group with Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine inside a cinema-turned vaccination hub at SM Manila on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Initial priority is for frontline economic workers or those requiresd to be at theiir work areas, and who are in direct contact with cleints, customers, etc.,” said Padilla, a retired military general.

Padilla said the Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) and National Immunization Advisory Technical Group (NITAG) will make the recommendations to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to include work-from-home employees in the priority.

“They will determine its roll out. Let us keep in mind too that our priority groups are still at A1, A2, A3, and A4. For A4 alone, we have more than 35 million needing inoculation. So if you marry supply with demand, we will not yet have enough to cover the total prioritised sectors,” Padilla explained.

Fifty economic frontliners were initially inoculated during the kickoff of the A4 vaccination on Monday at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. They represented the workers from the education, tourism, transportation, mass media, service, and business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said those qualified under the A4 category are private and public sector employees, including those belonging to the informal sector sush as the self-employed and workers in private households.

“These workers must be physically reporting to the workplace or those who are currently deployed or assigned to perform field work,” Galvez said.

Galvez pointed out that individuals who go out of their homes to work are the ones who drive the economy. As a result, he said they are amongthe most vulnerable to the disease so they should be protected regardless of the industry they belong to.

A total of 35.5 million individuals are included in the A4 priority group across the country.

But with the limited supply of vaccines, the first phase of the vaccine deployment for A4 will only cover 13 million workers who are in the NCR Plus 8 since these are the areas which have the highest number of COVID-19 cases. These areas are National Capital Region, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.

An additional 22.5 million workers who are working outside the NCR Plus 8 will be qualified to get the vaccine once the second phase of the A4 vaccination starts later this month and if more vaccines arrive, Galvez explained.