MANILA - Mayors and barangay chairpersons are considered health frontliners and are allowed to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a local chief executive said Sunday.
Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said he spoke with Department of Health officials on Saturday about the matter after at least 5 local officials were asked to explain their COVID-19 inoculation when they weren't included in the priority list.
"Legally, sinasabi po nila, (ang mayor) bilang chairman ng ating health board, qualified po tayo," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(Legally, they say, mayors, as chairman of the health board, are qualified.)
"'Yung sa mayor po, alam po nila na kami ang head ng local health force. Ang problema nga lang po, yung delicadeza... na kulang pa ho ang ating mga vaccine, yun pong uunahin natin ang ating sarili bago ang constituents."
(They know the mayor is the head of the local health force. The only problem is delicadeza - our vaccine supply is still lacking, should we prioritize ourselves before our constituents?)
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said frontliners remain as the government's priority in its immunization drive against COVID-19 as they were the only ones who can influence their colleagues.
Two mayors had said they got inoculated to boost their local health workers' confidence in the vaccine.
President Rodrigo Duterte had said that for him, the excuse of local officials about boosting public confidence is a gray area that needs legal study.
He also reiterated the need to follow the COVID-19 vaccination priority list, as is mandated by the World Health Organization and the COVAX Facility.
The Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (iNITAG) had adopted the following priority population groups for vaccination:
- A1: Frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc.
- A2: Senior citizens aged 60 years old and above
- A3: Persons with comorbidities not otherwise included in the preceding categories
- A4: Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ
- A5: Indigent population not otherwise included in the preceding categories
- B1: Teachers, Social Workers
- B2: Other Government Workers
- B3: Other essential workers
- B4: Socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people
- B5: Overseas Filipino Workers
- B6: Other Remaining Workforce
- C: Rest of the Filipino population not otherwise included in the above groups
As of March 23, the Philippines has inoculated 508,332 persons, mostly health workers, against COVID-19. Up to 70 million are being target to get vaccinated this year to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus.