Prosecutors, seafarers on jab priority list | Inquirer News

Prosecutors, seafarers on jab priority list

State prosecutors and seafarers are now included in the government’s priority list of people to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had granted the request of regional prosecutors for them to be included in the A4 priority category, which covers front-line workers in “essential” sectors, including uniformed personnel.

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Key workers

“But prosecutors who are senior citizens or who have comorbidities can get vaccinated now,” Guevarra said in a Viber message.

In a statement released on Monday, Narciso Vingson Jr., assistant transport secretary for maritime affairs, said a technical working group under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) had “push(ed) for the prioritization of Filipino seafarers in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program to secure their employment, and ensure the safe shipping operations of essential goods amid the pandemic.”

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The group, which includes officials from the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), identified as top priorities active seafarers, or those with recorded sea service within the last three years, and new seafarers with last recorded sea service beyond 2018.

From the B3 (other essential workers) or B5 (overseas Filipino workers) priority list, a total of 730,651 Filipino seafarers are being considered for the A4 category, the DOTr said.

Seafarers are considered key workers globally and locally because their work involved frequently entering various ports across the world amid the health crisis, Vingson said.

Shipping companies also preferred their workforce to be vaccinated against the virus to ensure that operations were smooth, unhampered and “somehow immune [from] the severe effects of COVID-19,” he added.

How about lawyers?

Aside from prosecutors, lawyers should also be on the priority list, according to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, whose plea noted that many lawyers were at risk of contracting the respiratory disease since they were still meeting with clients and attending court hearings in person.

Earlier, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 approved the Supreme Court’s request to allow some 30,000 employees of the judiciary to be included in the A4 category.

Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe said workers in the justice sector were “essential at all times, especially during the pandemic,” and that “upholding the rule of law assumes greater significance” during a national health crisis.

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Competition

Marino Rep. Sandro Gonzalez on Tuesday hailed the move to upgrade seafarers in the vaccine priority list and thanked the DOTr for its initiative in recognizing Filipino seafarers “as one of the pillars of our economy and as front-liners in the ongoing global pandemic.”

In January, the lawmaker filed House Resolution No. 1473, which called on the IATF to move up Filipino seafarers in the vaccine list “in the face of competition from other seafaring nations [that] are already vaccinating their population.”

Data from Marina and the POEA showed there were around 549,000 active seafarers registered in their system as of this year, 497,000 of whom were deployed overseas. INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19 vaccination priority list, prosecutors, seafarers
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