Gov’t to start vaccination of essential workers, indigents ‘after May’
MANILA, Philippines – A4 and A5 priority groups, including essential front-line workers and the poor, would get the COVID-19 vaccine once vaccine supply is steady, government officials said Tuesday.
Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19, said President Rodrigo Duterte had approved the expansion of COVID-19 immunization to essential workers and indigent citizens.
“Unang-una po, inanunsiyo na po ng ating vaccine czar at inaprubahan na ng ating Pangulo ang expansion natin sa economic frontliners at national government frontliners,” Dizon said in a Palace briefing.
(The vaccine czar announced earlier that the President has authorized expanding COVID-19 vaccination to economic frontliners and national government frontliners.)
During the President’s pre-recorded speech on Tuesday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said that opening vaccinations to the A4 and A5 priority groups was a recommendation of the business sector, many Cabinet officials, as well as the Senate.
“Dapat buksan na natin talaga ‘yung A4 priority group (essential frontliners) saka A5 (indigent population) na kailangan ‘yung bakuna, unahin natin ang mahihirap,” he told the President.
However, Galvez said that during a separate Palace briefing, the vaccination might start after May or when vaccine supply has become steady.
“Ang ating Gabinete, inaprubahan ang ating rekomendasyon na simulan na ang pagbabakuna ng ating mga kababayan na nasa A4 at A5 na kategorya pagkatapos ng buwan ng Mayo o kapag nagkaroon na tayo ng steady na supply.”
(Our Cabinet has approved our recommendation to start the inoculation in the A4 and A5 groups after the month of May or when we see a constant supply of vaccines.)
“Ang timing na lang po ang tinitingnan po natin. Ini-inventory po natin ngayon ang supply na darating saka iyong ating current inventory,” he added.
(Our timing is what we’re looking for. We’re still doing inventory for what’s yet to arrive as well as doing an inventory of what we have.)
Vaccines allocated to A5 and the indigent will come from the global initiative COVAX facility while procured vaccines go to essential workers.
Galvez said vaccines from the COVAX facility could be used on the poor “for equitable access.”
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said COVAX-donated vaccines, mainly AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses, can only be used on the top three priority groups: health workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.
Once the vaccination is opened up to the indigent population, there will be fewer doubts on whether AstraZeneca vaccines can be administered before it expires in June or July, Galvez said.
“Gagawin natin, lalakihan natin ‘yung net para ‘yung atin target population ay lumaki at mas marami ang mabakuhanahan. Kahi na mayroong mga magrereject, at least marami ang babakunahan,” Galvez said.
(We will broaden our net, so our target population increases, and even though there will be some who won’t get vaccinated, we can still vaccinate others.)
He said the target population of essential workers is 12.8 million, while 16 million are listed under the indigent population.
“Ang recommendation ng business sector at karamihan ng Gabinete at saka sa Senate ay ibukas na as soon as possible time na pwede magstart para sa mahihirap para ‘yung mga ibang mga bakuna na galing sa COVAX ay mabigyan din ang mahihirap,” Galvez said.
(Business sector, Cabinet officials and senators want to open up vaccination so poor people can get vaccines from COVAX.)
As for Duterte, he agreed to prioritize the poor, repeating his earlier proposal to get vaccines to people who can’t get to vaccination sites.
EDV, JE, abc
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