Group wants teachers prioritized for jabs; local execs now ahead of them
MANILA, Philippines — The government should put teachers high in its priority list for COVID-19 vaccination to raise public confidence in resuming in-person classes soon, an alliance of more than 30 organizations from the health, business and academic sectors said.
“While teachers are at an average risk level of COVID infection, vaccinating them increases confidence to open schools,” the groups said in a joint statement on Friday, noting that giving teachers such an accommodation has been “the common standard internationally.”
They cited the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Singapore and Cambodia as among the countries that have prioritized educators in the vaccine rollout.
“To this date, there is no complete and concrete plan for the safe reopening of schools,” they said. “Teachers are critical to the continued functioning of society.”
Among the 33 organizations that issued the position paper are Action for Economic Reforms, Makati Business Club, Ateneo Center for Educational Development, De La Salle Philippines, Manila Doctors Hospital, Philippine Business for Education, Management Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Pediatric Society, among others.
Based on Resolution No. 1 issued by the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (iNITAG), health-care front-liners, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities (Group A1 to A3), and workers in “essential sectors” (A4) are ahead of teachers and social workers (B1) in the government’s priority list for inoculation against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has approved the request of mayors to reclassify local officials—from the provincial to the barangay level—as “essential workers” who will also be prioritized for vaccination.
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, president of the 145-member League of Cities of the Philippines, said it was Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing who informed him of the IATF’s approval.
Leonardia said the reclassification would cover 1,634 provincial governors and city and municipal mayors, and 42,046 barangay chairs nationwide.
He defended the change by saying that “the risk of exposure that we (local officials) encounter on a day-to-day basis as we continue to serve our constituents is also very high.”
From B2 to A4
“This development will surely inspire and encourage our local government leaders to even work harder and more effectively in the implementation of our COVID-19 programs, especially now that we are accelerating our efforts to vaccinate as many of our people [as possible], given the surge in cases in many areas in the country in recent weeks,” Leonardia said.
The local officials, who were previously in the B2 group with “other government workers” on the iNITAG list, are now included in the A4 bracket.
On Saturday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the iNITAG would discuss the possibility of concentrating the vaccination drive in Metro Manila following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the capital region.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. also said he and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III would discuss that matter with the advisory group. —WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
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