MANILA - Pfizer is "working hard" to immediately deliver COVID-19 jabs for 5 to 11 years old to the Philippines by next week, the third week of January, the Philippines' envoy to the US said Thursday.
The Philippines ordered some 10 million doses of the vaccines for children aged 5 to 11, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said.
"We just had a meeting the other day with Pfizer together with Sec [Carlito] Galvez, we discussed the possibility of this being delivered earlier. Pfizer’s working hard in getting this to the Philippines by the 3rd week of this month and hopefully more by February," he told ANC's Headstart.
The US has donated some 25 million to 28 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Romualdez said.
Meantime, the US visas of "at least 130,000" Filipino health workers are pending as the nation faces one of its worst surges, according to Romualdez.
"The demand for healthcare workers is very, very high that’s why our nurses association here already asked us to help on getting their visas, probably at least 130,000 visa or healthworkers are pending right now to come to the US," he said.
Although she did not name the US as the primary destination abroad, Jocelyn Andamo, secretary general of Filipino Nurses United, said her colleagues continue to leave the country because of the lack of improvement in their work conditions and salary.
"Nakikita po natin na tuloy-tuloy ang pag-alis ng mga nurses sa profession namin at saka sa bansa kasi wala pong nakikitang substantial or significant na improvement sa work conditions namin, sa sahod namin," she told ANC's Headstart in a separate interview.
(We see that nurses continue to leave our profession and the country because they don't see substantial or significant improvement in our work conditions, salary.)
Andamo said their group had been calling on the government to ensure the safety and protection of nurses and other healthcare workers since the start of the pandemic, and they disagree with the newly released guidelines on shortening the quarantine for infected workers.
"Ngayong pandemya po, napaka-risky. Buhay ang nakataya sa paglilingkod at itong issue ng shortened quarantine, nakikita namin ito na hindi safe para sa kalusugan at kaligtasan ng mga nurses at iba pang health workers, pati na sa aming pamilya dahil maaaring madala namin ang virus sa aming mga pamilya," she said.
(During this pandemic, it's very risky, we put our lives on the line to serve and this issue on shortened quarantine, we see this as unsafe for the health of nurses and other health workers, and also our families because we can bring the virus to them.)
Isolation period for COVID-infected health workers and their close contacts was shortened to mitigate the decimation of the workforce as coronavirus cases in their ranks increased.
This came after several countries also reduced their required quarantine period. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its move to cut in half to 5 days the isolation period after COVID-19 infection was based on science around transmission of the virus.