DOH identifies comorbidities to be prioritized for COVID-19 inoculation

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DOH identifies comorbidities to be prioritized for COVID-19 inoculation
Frontliners get inoculated with AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine during the continuation of vaccination for health workers and frontliners at Marikina Sports Complex on March 24, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Only people with underlying medical conditions that may increase the risk of hospitalization and death can be inoculated for now as the government implements the simultaneous vaccination of priority sectors, the Department of Health said.

In the Philippines, there are 14.5 million people living with comorbidities. But not all persons with pre-existing illnesses will be eligible for the current vaccine rollout due to the scarce supply of vaccines.

John Wong, a member of the IATF’s technical working group on data analytics, said the persons with any of the following illnesses can qualify for early access to COVID-19 jabs:

  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Malignancy
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Obesity

Wong explained these pre-existing illnesses increase people's risk for unfavorable outcomes if they are infected with COVID-19. He said including individuals with these comorbidities in the priority list for vaccination will relieve pressure on the health system and save lives.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said CoronaVac, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, will be administered to those with controlled comorbidities as recommended by health experts working with the government.

The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, meanwhile, will be given to senior citizens.

Individuals with these pre-existing illnesses need to present a medical certificate issued within the last 18 months or a prescription issued within the last six months. They can also present a laboratory result or a surgical record.

The documents will be evaluated by health workers in vaccination sites.

“If we have a sufficient supply of vaccines, individuals with other comorbidities that are not included in the list will be also inoculated,” Vergeire said in Filipino. 

Guidelines on the vaccination of people with comorbidities will be released Monday.

Simultaneous vaccination

To fasttrack the country's immunization efforts, the government decided to employ simultaneous vaccination of the top three priority groups: healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2) and people with comorbidities (A3).

Vergeire said “this strategy was borne out of the fact that we are having increase in the number of cases.”

The Philippines reported Monday 10,016 new COVID-19 cases, a new record high that pushed the caseload to 731,894. Of these, 15.8% are active cases.

So far, the country has administered 656,331 COVID-19 vaccine doses across the country.



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