Filipinos told: Skipping vaccine line may jeopardize doses from COVAX

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Filipinos told: Skipping vaccine line may jeopardize doses from COVAX
Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who is not on the priority list, receives COVID-19 vaccine.
Alfred Romualdez, Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Administering COVID-19 jabs obtained through the COVAX Facility to non-health workers jumping the line could risk the country’s allocation in the vaccine-sharing initiative, the Department of Health warned.

The DOH issued the warning Tuesday after non-medical frontliners, including mayors, skipped the line for COVID-19 vaccination. It stressed the limited shots must be first given to healthcare workers who are at the forefront of treating and caring for patients with COVID-19.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reiterated the World Health Organization’s statement that all doses supplied by the COVAX Facility must be given to priority groups and its warning that the Philippines may risk losing millions of much needed shots if it fails to follow prioritization commitments.

“Giving the vaccines to non-healthcare workers when not all healthcare workers have been vaccinated will jeopardize succeeding doses from COVAX,” Vergeire said.

The government is expecting to get millions of free vaccines from the WHO-led initiative, enough to immunize at least 15% of its population against the disease by the end of 2021.

The Philippines has so far received 525,600 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca. Additional 979,200 doses of AstraZeneca jabs are also seen to be delivered by end-March.

COVAX is a global initiative working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 shots are available to both higher-income and lower-income countries.

‘Wait for our turn’

In a briefing Wednesday, Vergeire appealed to the public and fellow government officials to respect the existing prioritization framework.

“Let’s wait for our turn. That will come. We are entitled to be vaccinated. We just need to have prioritization because our vaccine supply is not enough at the moment,” she said in Filipino.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez and Minglanilla City Mayor Elanito Peña, who are not on the priority list for vaccination, were inoculated with CoronaVac and AstraZeneca shots, respectively.

Malacañang asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government to probe into the inoculation of Romualdez. The DOH, for its part, said it has referred the matter to the DILG as well as to the Department of Justice.

The government earlier drew criticism for the unauthorized inoculation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s close in security team with smuggled Sinopharm vaccines last year. Columnist Mon Tulfo also revealed that he and other government officials got vaccinated ahead of everyone else.

Nobody has been held to account over those incidents.

Public urged to remain on guard

The health department also asked the public to report incidents of people jumping the vaccination line so authorities can initiate investigations. They can call the agency through 8651-7800 local 2527 or inform DOH regional offices.

“We all guard our vaccine so we can appropriately give it to the people who are at most need,” Vergeire said.

The Philippines kicked off its vaccination drive on March 1. So far, some 336,656 Filipinos have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of March 20.



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 4, 2022 - 9:06am

The national government has so far secured two official deals for COVID-19 vaccine supplies in the Philippines, one with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac and another with the Serum Institute of India.

Watch this space for bite-sized developments on the vaccines in the Philippines. (Main image by Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

January 4, 2022 - 9:06am

Government must increase vaccination capacity across the Philippines in anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant of the corona virus, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

She says local government units and the private sector can work together to put up more vaccination centers and deploy more vaccination teams to get more people inoculated against COVID-19.

"The active COVID cases have nearly doubled in three days. The positivity rate is almost four times the ceiling set by the World Health Organization. Huwag na nating hintayin na sobrang lumala pa ang sitwasyon bago tayo gumawa ng paraan para mapabilis ang ating pagbabakuna."

December 23, 2021 - 11:44am

FDA chief Eric Domingo says that its agency has given emergency approval for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

November 11, 2021 - 7:30am

The United States immunized around 900,000 children aged five-to-11 against Covid in the first week the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for them, a White House official says Wednesday.

Roughly 700,000 more have made appointments at pharmacies, White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients tells reporters.

"The program is just getting up to full strength," he says, adding most of the shots were given in the last couple of days alone. — AFP

November 8, 2021 - 7:56pm

The Philippines has received 2.8 million doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines from Russia.

The shipment arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Monday night and was met by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

November 7, 2021 - 11:57am

A Department of the Interior and Local Government proposal to require Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries to get vaccinated before cash transfers to them can be released will not help the poor, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

"Walang kundisyon sa 4Ps law na kailangang COVID-19 vaccinated ang recipients kaya dapat igalang at irespeto ng ating mga opisyal ang desisyon ng sinuman ukol sa pagbabakuna," she says. 

(The 4Ps Law does not include the condition that recipients must be vaccinated against COVID-19 so the government must respect people's decision to get vaccinated or not)

She says it would be better for government agencues like the social welfare and health departments to encourage 4Ps beneficiaries to get vaccinated but not as a condition to receive cash aid.

Hontiveros says encouragement and explanations have helped address vaccine hesitancy in Metro Manila.

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