Malacañang said senior citizens and those with comorbidities will soon be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) simultaneously with frontline healthcare workers.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this clarification as he urged private and public hospitals as well as local government units (LGUs) to prepare a “substitution list” consisting of Covid-19 recipients coming from sectors A1, A2, and A3.
In the national government’s vaccine priority list, A1 refers to frontline medical workers, A2 refers to senior citizens aged 60 and above, and A3 refers to persons with comorbidities.
“We encourage all hospitals and later on our local government units because LGUs will be in charge of vaccinating senior and comorbidities, to prepare a substitution list coming from sectors A1, A2, and A3,” he said partly in Filipino in a press briefing on Saturday night.
Roque, meanwhile, reminded the local chief executives to follow the priority list for Covid-19 vaccination.
As much as possible, let’s follow the priority; but if we cannot help it, recipients must be coming from sectors A1, A2, A3,” he added.
Earlier, Roque said while President Rodrigo Duterte understands the mayors’ decision to receive vaccine shots, it is still “wrong” to jump the Covid-19 vaccination line.
“I am sure good faith can be used as a defense. However, the President, while he said there is a gray area, is expecting that a similar incident would not happen again because we would risk the 44 million vaccines that we will receive through the COVAX Facility,” he said.
Last Wednesday, Duterte acknowledged a “gray area” in the inoculation of some local officials.
Duterte made the admission, as he acknowledged the “universal excuse” of the local officials that they decided to get inoculated to boost public confidence in Covid-19 vaccines.
MAYORS JUMPING THE LINE
He was referring to Mayors Alfred Romualdez (Tacloban City, Leyte), Dibu Tuan (T’boli, South Cotabato), Sulpicio Villalobos (Sto Niño, South Cotabato), Noel Rosal (Legazpi, Albay), and Abraham Ibba (Bataraza, Palawan) who were issued show-cause orders for jumping the queue to get their coronavirus vaccine shots.
Duterte added that apart from the five local officials, Mayors Elanito Peña (Minglanilla, Cebu), Victoriano Torres III (Alicia, Bohol), Virgilio Mendez (San Miguel, Bohol), and Arturo Piollo II (Lila, Bohol) also received Covid-19 vaccine jabs ahead of other prioritized groups.
He also warned that the Philippines might lose Covid-19 vaccines that it is expected to receive through the World Health Organization (WHO)-led Vaccines Global Access or COVAX Facility.
“We have to follow [the priority list] because the WHO country representative had told us, ‘If you do not follow the list of priority, you might lose the assistance of the WHO.’ That’s what we were told)” he said.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier proposed simultaneous Covid-19 vaccination of priority groups belonging to sectors A1, A2, A3 while the private sector inoculates A4 or economic front-liners.
‘If we do it sequentially, it will take a long time. We should be vaccinating simultaneously,” he said.
The Philippines is expected to receive a total of 44 million vaccine doses through the COVAX Facility within the year.
The country has so far received 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility.
Apart from AstraZeneca vaccines, the country has also so far got 1 million doses Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine donated by Chinese government.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to witness the arrival of around 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine purchased by the Philippine government from Sinovac Biotech.