Health workers not on COVID-19 duty won’t be on vaccination priority list – Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — Healthcare professionals, including nurses and doctors, who are not actively engaged in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic would not be given priority in the vaccinations, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a pre-recorded briefing televised Monday night.
The supply of vaccines currently available would only be enough for health workers in the frontlines, he explained.
The President said this after he personally welcomed the 1.2 million vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac BioTech. These are part of the purchases made by the government.
“Let’s be frank. The 1.2 million doses that arrived today will just be enough for the frontliners — the health workers and all those connected with the efforts in fighting COVID,” he said in Filipino.
“But, for example, people who are not at all doing work in a hospital or those who are not practitioners, those with businesses, shouldn’t they be considered as civilians?
“I would not give [priority] because [COVID-19 response] has no connection to your job. There are people with medical education — medicine, nursing — but they are not practicing it. They are not practicing their profession, would they be considered also priority or just an ordinary citizen?” Duterte asked.
In reply, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said: “You’re correct, Mr. President. They will not be considered as healthcare workers for the simple reason, sir, that they have practically no risk of exposure compared to the healthcare workers in the hospitals, — both local and national, both public and private — and those in other facilities like isolation quarantine facilities and our barangay health workers and doctors,” Duque said partly in Filipino
Those workers, he added, would be included in the A1 category for vaccination.
Neither Duterte nor Duque mentioned, however, whether health workers working for lifestyle clinics and those doing cosmetic surgery would also not be given priority.
As of now, the government is counting on vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with a recent upsurge in cases.
On Monday, the Department of Health recorded 10,016 new cases — a record-high increase in new cases, bringing the nationwide total to 115,495 active infections.
This surge in infections forced the government to place Metro Manila and adjacent provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under a single bubble under an enhanced community quarantine.
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