Philippines begins 'phased implementation' of COVID-19 vaccination for workers

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 07 2021 12:14 PM | Updated as of Jun 07 2021 04:27 PM

Workers receive their first Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine shot in a 'symbolic' vaccination at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City on June 7, 2021, marking the start of vaccination of people under the A4 category. The vaccination of 'economic frontliners' aims to jumpstart the safe reopening of the country's economy. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Philippines on Monday began the "phased implementation" of the vaccination of workers in essential industries, focusing on the National Capital Region and 8 other areas with high COVID-19 cases.

Some 12 million from Metro Manila, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Rizal, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao will be prioritized in the inoculation of essential workers, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.

"The workers may be stratified according to age para aligned din tayo [based] sa vulnerability," she said.

Local government units "can stratify from oldest to youngest," she said, noting that the national government's vaccine officials would soon release operational guidelines on the age-based inoculation of workers.

Older adults are more prone to developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a separate press briefing. 

Video from the Department of Health

HOW SOON CAN WORKERS GET VACCINATED? 

There are at least 22 million essential workers nationwide, according to data from the Department of Health.

Some 10 million other workers from essential sectors based in areas outside the so-called NCR Plus 8 would be jabbed as soon as more vaccines arrive, Vergeire said.

"This will all depend on the supply," she said.

"We know na 'yung dating ng supply might not be enough to cover the A4 sector," she said.

(We know that the supply that will arrive might not be enough to cover the A4 sector.)

Aside from receiving enough supply, local governments outside of NCR Plus must also complete the vaccination of the top 3 priority groups–health workers, the elderly, and people with health risks–before inoculating essential workers, said vaccine "czar" Carlito Galvez Jr. 

The Philippines expects to get 30 to 40 million COVID-19 shots from June to August, he said. 

The DOH earlier said it expects to achieve herd immunity in Metro Manila and 8 other provinces by November this year.

Video courtesy of PTV

So far, over 1.5 million individuals have been fully vaccinated, while more than 4.4 million others have received their first dose.

Officials earlier said the Philippines needs to vaccinate at least 58 million people to attain heard immunity by the end of 2021.