UK sent 'positive' response on PH request for pre-deployment COVID-19 vaccination of nurses: Bello

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 25 2021 10:56 AM | Updated as of Feb 25 2021 10:58 AM

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MANILA - The United Kingdom has sent a "positive" response to the Philippines on its request for health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to their deployment there, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Thursday.

Bello said he had asked the UK for vaccines so that medical frontliners are protected against COVID-19 before they were deployed.

"Sabi ko kay ambassador, kung saka-sakaling mag-recommend ako, gusto ko yung nurses bago i-deploy nakatitiyak tayo sa ang kanilang kaligtasan. The best way is ma-vaccinate sila bago pumunta doon," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(I told the UK ambassador that if I would recommend their deployment, I want to ensure the nurses' safety. The best way is to vaccinate them before they go there.)

"May sagot na po, may letter siya ipapadala ko kay Presidente by Monday po. Positive," he added when asked of the ambassador's response.

(He has responded through a letter I will send to the President by Monday. It's positive.)

Thousands of Filipino nurses work in the UK's National Health Service. The Philippines earlier relaxed a ban on deploying its health care workers overseas to secure its local medical workforce amid the pandemic, but still limits the number of medical professionals leaving the country to 5,000 a year. 

A labor official earlier this week said the Philippines may allow more health care workers to be deployed to Britain and Germany if the two countries agree to donate COVID-19 vaccines, no single vial of which has yet arrived in the country while other nations have begun mass inoculations. 

Some 117,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines through global alliance COVAX Facility were expected to arrive in the Philippines this month but the shipment was delayed due to the absence of an indemnification agreement.

The Philippines recently granted emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine of China's Sinovac, and 600,000 doses are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. 

The government earlier said 50 to 70 million Filipinos can be immunized against COVID-19 by yearend if vaccine supplies arrive on time.