Can frontliners choose their COVID-19 vaccine? Officials weigh in


Posted at Jan 14 2021 10:31 AM

An employee holds a vial containing CoronaVac, Sinovac Biotech's vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Butantan biomedical production center in Sao Paulo, Brazil Jan. 12, 2021. Amanda Perobelli, Reuters

MANILA - The Philippine government will ensure the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines that will enter the country, the Department of Health said Thursday when asked whether frontliners can choose which vaccine will be injected to them.

The development comes with next month's expected delivery of Sinovac vaccines and the beginning of the World Health Organization's COVAX facility immunization program.

"Kung ano po ang ibibigay natin sa ating healthcare workers 'di po tayo magkakaroon ng chance or pagkakataon na makakapili sila. Kung ano po ang ma-assign 'yun po ang maibibigay," DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire told ANC's Headstart.

(Healthcare workers won't be given a chance to choose, whatever is assigned to them will be given to them.)

"Alam po natin limitado po ang ating supplies (We know the supplies are limited)...Whatever vaccines will come into the country, the government will guarantee it will be safe and it will provide the protection that we need."

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Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said healthworkers may sign a waiver refusing the vaccine assigned to them which will move them to the end of the immunization list.

"Kunyari nauna ang Sinovac (If Sinovac arrives first) and it’s NCR frontliners, it’s either you take it or you don’t. You sign a waiver saying you understand, you waive your slot in the queue," he told ANC in a separate interview.

Giving healthworkers the option to choose their vaccine will be "very tedious," said Vergeire.

She added that the latest Brazil study on the efficacy of Sinovac's vaccine candidate states that it prevents by 50 percent the risk of getting infected and also lessens chances of hospitalization.

"I think that is one thing we should all think of, na kahit po na magkakasakit tayo, kung di naman po tayo magkakaroon ng malalang sakit at kung di tayo maoospital, 'yun po ang isang objective natin on why we’re doing this," she said.

(I think that is one thing we should all think of, that even if we get sick, it won't be severe and we won't get hospitalized. That's one of our objectives on why we’re doing this.)

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