MANILA - The Department of Health is studying possible sanctions against government officials and other individuals who got vaccinated against COVID-19 while not on the priority list as the supply of jabs in the country remains limited.
In a public press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are studying sanctions such as possible administrative cases against erring officials, as health workers are supposed to be priority for vaccination.
“Pinaguusapan po 'yan ngayon so maaaring administrative cases, pinag-uusapan ang possible sanctions at possible violations based on our existing policies,” Vergeire said, without mentioning any government official.
(That is being discussed right now. So, possible that there are administrative cases, possible sanctions, and possible violations based on our existing policies.)
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority public services head Michael Salalima were prompted to get vaccinated at the Pasay General Hospital.
This, as government's inoculation drive went underway with the arrival of COVID-19 jabs from China's Sinovac. A new batch of vaccines, this time by AstraZeneca, arrived on Thursday through the vaccine-sharing COVAX facility.
In a briefing Thursday, Roque said the said officials received the shots “in good faith.”
"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.
With the arrival of vaccine doses from AstraZeneca, Vergeire warned that the doses must be allotted to front line health workers, following COVAX guidelines, to avoid “jeopardizing” the agreement set between the Philippines and the global vaccine-sharing platform.
"Kung magkakaroon tayo ng violation this might jeopardize the succeeding supplies na ibibigay ng COVAX facility, So nakikiusap kami sa lahat: we will all have our turn. Pabayaan po muna natin ang ating hospital health workers na makatanggap ng bakunang ito,” she said.
(If we commit violations, this might jeopardize the succeeding supplies to be given by the COVAX facility. So we appeal to the public: we will all have our turn. Allow the hospitals, health workers to receive the vaccines.)
Around 13,000 health workers in the Philippines have been inoculated as of Friday. According to Vergeire, there are an estimated 1.8 million health workers in the country.