Health workers, elderlies, poor Pinoys prioritized to get COVID-19 vaccine on initial program

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2020 08:13 PM

An elderly lady grimaces as she is given a vaccine against respiratory infections like pneumonia and influenza during a mass vaccination in Dapitan, Manila on October 7, 2019

MANILA — Frontline health workers both in the public and private sectors, senior citizens, and poor Filipinos are among those prioritized to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 under the current proposal of the government, an official from the Department of Health (DOH) had said.

At a hearing last week by the House Committee on People's Participation, DOH Bureau of International Health Cooperation’s Dr. Aleli Annie Sudiacal said that while the goal is to have every Filipino inoculated, the first part of the program proposes to cover only some 24.7 million Filipinos.

They are the ones covered in the top 5 priority groups.

In her presentation to lawmakers, Sudiacal said the country's 1,762,994 frontline health workers are the first priority for the coronavirus vaccine, once available.

These include: 

  • private and public health workers working in treatment and rehabilitation centers, COVID-19 treatment and monitoring facilities, hospitals (612,975)
  • other public health workers, like those in rural, city and provincial health offices, those on the field, and local government contact tracers (602,982)
  • barangay health workers including BHERTS (414,640)
  • other frontline workers in other national government agencies, like DSWD, DepEd, DILG, BJMP and Bureau of Corrections (132,397)

Indigent senior citizens, numbering 3,789,874, are prioritized second. Sudiacal described this population as one of the most vulnerable.

Senior citizens not under the indigent category, numbering 5,678,544, make up the third priority group for the vaccine.

The 12,911,193 remaining members of the indigent population are the fourth in the priority eligible groups.

Comprising the fifth priority group are the government’s 525,523 uniformed personnel, including from the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit.

LOOK: DOH shares the breakdown
LOOK: DOH shares the breakdown

“We are very cognizant of the fact that yun dami ng ating mababakunahan ay dependent din po on the supply. But should we be able to get enough vaccines for everyone, nakalista na sa plan na ito kung sino ang ating ipa-prioritize,” Sudiacal said. 

(The number of people to be vaccinated is depended on the supply… We have listed in this plan who should be prioritized.)

The list shared by the health department also showed that teachers and school workers in the public and private sectors are 6th in the priority list; followed by the following:

- 7th: all remaining government workers
- 8th: "essential workers" in agriculture, the food industry, transportation and tourism
- 9th: sociodemographic groups in significantly higher risk areas other than the senior citizens and indigent population (persons deprived of liberty, persons with disabilities, and Filipinos living in high-density areas)
- 10th: overseas Filipino workers
- 11th: other remaining workforce
- 12th: students

“So ‘yong ating teachers, school workers, all government workers, essential workers and those in the socio demographic groups at higher risk po, PWD, other remaining work force then students… I hope people will not misconstrue that they are not priority,” Sudiacal explained. 

"Because we do know yet the vaccines that will be coming out, the vaccines that will be approved by our regularity process, yun pong ating priority population may still vary a little," she added.

Sudiacal said the primary objectives of the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan being finalized by the DOH, which identified the population priority list for the phased implementation program of the immunization program, are to directly reduce morbidity and mortality, and maintain the operations of most essential and critical services.

"Our secondary goal with this plan is to substantially control transmission, and minimize disruption of social and economic functions," she added.

On Wednesday, Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and the country's vaccine czar, said 35 million Filipinos are on the priority list, although he did not provide a breakdown.

He also said it may take up to 5 years to finish the government’s vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus. 

The country is eyeing COVID-19 vaccine supplies from 5 to 6 countries and hopes to "unlock" the funds for this by next month, he said.

Last week, Duterte approved advance payment to private vaccine developers to ensure that the Philippines would get a supply of the drug. He is also set to authorize emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines, according to Malacañang.

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