MANILA - A "number" of non-frontliners have jumped the country's COVID-19 vaccination queue, an official said Monday.
The Philippines earlier this month began its immunization program against COVID-19, prioritizing healthworkers who battle the disease in the frontlines.
Treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, however, said there are reports of non-health workers jumping the vaccination line.
"We’ve had reports of this. Although we've been saying this can’t be because we have a prioritized vaccination in terms of health workers. This has been observed. The numbers are very insignificant but we do see a number jumping the queue," he told ANC's Headstart.
"I'm not so sure of the specifics but I'm aware there are, who really are jumping the queue."
When asked about possible penalties, Vega said he leaves it to government's vaccine cluster.
"This has been observed across the globe. There has been a jump in the queue and we cannot avoid this oftentimes, sometimes it happens," he said.
The country has so far inoculated "below 50 percent" of its healthworkers nationwide, according to Vega. Government aims to vaccinate this year 50 to 70 million Filipinos or a third of its population to achieve herd immunity.
"In Metro Manila we have already given the first dose to roughly about 71-75 percent of all healthcare workers. In provinces, it’s still low. We’re just hitting about 35 percent probably at this time," he said.
The administration earlier received flak following the unauthorized inoculation of President Rodrigo Duterte's security detail. Former special envoy to China Mon Tulfo had also said he was vaccinated with Sinopharm, which has yet to be approved for emergency use in the country.