MANILA — Two officials not on the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout received shots out of "good faith," Malacañang said on Thursday, as it admitted "breaches" in the Philippine inoculation strategy.
Staff at the Pasay General Hospital had "prompted" Interior Secretary Jonathan Malaya and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority public services head Michael Salalima to get vaccinated, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
"The two, in good faith, thought that they were doing the nation a service by having themselves vaccinated kasi nga, mataas pa iyong tinatawag nating distrust sa bakuna (because vaccine distrust is still high)," he said in a televised press briefing.
"Upon being prodded and being offered, and guided by their desire to increase public confidence in the vaccine, nagpabakuna po sila (they got vaccinated)."
Roque said Malaya was not aware that an advisory group had barred officials who could have served as "influencers" from taking COVID-19 shots, which should go to health workers amid still limited supply.
The guideline "was not really disseminated properly," said the Palace spokesman.
Roque said he almost got inoculated at the Philippine General Hospital because of this, but only did not get one because the COVID-19 shots ran out.
"Everyone should now know na talagang itong mga naunang dumating na mga bakuna ay para sa mga medical frontliners lamang," said the official.
"Pero ngayon tingin ko malinaw na 'yan. Okay, hindi po tayo perfect sa pagpapatupad nitong protocol. Nagkaroon tayo ng kakaunting breaches. Pero we have learned from the breaches," he said.
(Everyone should now know that the vaccine which were first to arrive are exclusively for medical frontliners. But I think that's clear now. Okay, we are not perfect in implementing these protocols. We had some breaches. But we have learned from the breaches.)
The Philippines on Monday launched its vaccination drive with 600,000 COVID-19 shots from Beijing-based drugmaker Sinovac Biotech.
Among the hardest-hit in Asia by the pandemic, the Philippines will receive later Thursday 487,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Britain's AstraZeneca.