Labor Day vaccination for OFWs? Bello is crossing his fingers

The vaccine rollout for people under the A4 priority group--which includes overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)--could begin on May 1, Labor Day.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III made this revelation Friday, April 23, citing a personal "promise" from National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

"Kung saka-sakaling makarating yung mga vaccine ni Secretary Galvez, sabi niya ay magro-rollout siya ng vaccine sa May 1 para sa ating manggagawa, lalung-lalo na sa ating mga overseas Filipino workers (Secretary Galvez said that if ever his expected batch of vaccines will arrive, he will roll out vaccines for workers, especially our overseas Filipino workers, on May 1)," Bello said during a virtual press briefing organized by the department.

The A4 classification of beneficiaries include frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel. OFWs--a sector that has been hit hard by the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic--is the latest addition to this category.

However, Bello couldn't say for certain how many local workers or OFWs would get vaccinated on May 1, since all will depend on action from the vaccine czar's end.

But if the vaccination pushes through, then it will have been the best gift that Filipino workers will receive on Labor Day, he said.

"Kung saka-sakali dumating yung inaasahan ni Secretary Galvez, yung mga vaccine niya, ay nangako naman siya na magro-rollout siya sa mga OFWs at mga workers (He promised to roll out vaccines for OFWs and workers if ever his expected batch arrives)," he noted, adding, "Abangan natin ang May 1 (Let's look forward to May 1)."

Bello said he is eyeing Manila as a potential site for the A4 vaccination on Labor Day.

He said that for the May 1 celebration, DOLE will conduct a job summit along with a national job fair. Over 15,000 jobs will be up for grabs during the job fair.

Over 500,000 OFWs--most of of them displaced due to the effects of the pandemic--have been repatriated to the Philippines since last year.

Most foreign employers have since made inoculation from COVID-19 as a requirement for migrant workers.