Give vaccine priority to medical frontliners, labor group urges
MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Health-care workers should be given priority in vaccination against COVID-19, but using only tested and authorized vaccines, unlike the shot given to President Duterte’s bodyguards, selected Cabinet officials and private citizens, the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) said on Sunday.
FFW president Sonny Matula said labor union officials from the health sector supported passing a law that would give priority to health-care workers in vaccination, after troops from the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were reported to have been inoculated with an unauthorized vaccine from China.
Matula said medical front-liners should be vaccinated at the earliest possible time “to prevent the exhaustion of our medical human resources.”
But health-care workers also ask that the vaccination be done voluntarily, he said.
Not fully tested
“We understand that not all doctors, nurses and other health-care workers want to be among the first to roll up their sleeves. At least not yet, [because] the vaccines are not yet fully tested,” Matula said.
He said health-care workers “want to wait until the side effects are fully known and some or all of the bad effects are reduced if not eliminated.”
Matula said some FFW members representing health-care workers had expressed opposition or hesitancy to being inoculated with China-made vaccines due to the lack of transparency in test results and “confusing claims on their effectiveness.”
Alliance of Filipino Workers president Willy Pulia, a nursing assistant at Makati Medical Center, denounced the “irresponsible and unauthorized experiment” on PSG troops who were given an unauthorized vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.
“They were like guinea pigs in an illicit test that disregarded scientific process and blatantly ignored all regulatory rules,” Pulia said.
Rudy Ladiao, secretary general of Unified Filipino Service Workers, said his coworkers at Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center were alarmed by the disregard for regulatory processes.
Aida Brillantes, FFW vice president for Mindanao and a dietitian at San Pedro Hospital of Davao City, called for transparency in the purchase of vaccines, as well as accountability of public officials in the regulation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Phoebe Alcuril, president of Capiz Emmanuel Hospital Employees Association, said health-care workers should be inoculated only with vaccines that have passed the scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration.
Health authorities fear a surge in coronavirus infections as a result of the Christmas and New Year celebrations, especially in heavily populated Metro Manila.
On Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) logged 891 additional infections, raising the overall number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country to 477,807.
The DOH warned against complacency, as the relatively low number of additional infections could be due to fewer testings during the holidays. “An increase in cases in the coming weeks is still possible,” it said.
Davao City reported most of the new cases, 65, followed by Rizal (55), Isabela (50), Manila (40) and Quezon City (37).
The DOH reported 8,316 recoveries, bringing the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 448,258. But the death toll rose to 9,257 with the deaths of four more patients.
The deaths and recoveries left the country with 20,292 active cases, of which 80.9 percent were mild, 8.2 percent asymptomatic, 0.58 moderate, 3.6 percent severe, and 6.7 critical.
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