1.7M health workers eligible for Covid-19 vaccination

SunStar File

IN THE initial vaccination priority list released by the Department of Health (DOH), more than 1.7 million frontline health workers are eligible to be vaccinated.

During the online "Learning Session on Reporting for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan" organized by DOH on January 26, 2021, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan of the Philippine follows the World Health Organization (WHO) Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (Sage) in terms of the distribution and deployment of the vaccine.

In her presentation, she said 1,762,994 frontline health workers will be eligible for the vaccination. This already includes those working in the public and private health facilities, the public health workers and local government unit (LGU) contact tracers, barangay health workers, and those working for the departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Education (DepEd), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

They will be followed by indigent senior citizens (3.8 million), remaining senior citizens (5.7 million), remaining indigent population (13 million), and uniformed personnel such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) (more than 500,000). These groups will make up the first priority eligible group.

Making up the second priority eligible group are teachers and social workers (1.2 million), other government workers (1.7 million), other essential workers outside health, education, and social welfare sectors (1.7 million), socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than SCs and IPs (1.8 million), overseas Filipino workers (1.7 million), and other remaining workforce (1.3 million).

The third priority eligible group are remaining Filipino citizens.

Each individual will be inoculated with two doses. The numbers, she said, are still expected to change as the study continues to progress.

"We have already started our training in terms of deployment. We have e-learning module available on our website. Private sector, private health workers will vaccinate their own staff in their facilities. Health workers are immunized, LGU will tap them to vaccinate," said Cabotaje.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. was previously reported saying that 50,000 doses of CoronaVac, Sinovac Biotech of China will arrive on February 20, 2021. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines may also arrive in the country in February through the Covax initiative of WHO.

Galvez said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be available in Metro Manila, Cebu City, and Davao City, cities where cold storage facilities are available.

Cabotaje emphasized that distribution and deployment strategies will vary depending on the temperature requirement of the specific vaccine as there are vaccines requiring -20°C and the others -70°C.

While Cabotaje understands that permission to be individually vaccinated is voluntary, she said they call for proper information dissemination to further educate Filipinos of the vaccines.

When asked whether or not those who have Covid-19 history be inoculated with the vaccine still, Cabotaje said this will vary on the specific vaccine to be used.

"General rule from WHO, the presence or absence of Covid-19 should not be deterrent to vaccination. However, we are now looking at what different vaccine manufacturers have submitted to the FDA. We will have specific guidelines for different vaccines. [For example,] with Pfizer BioNtech - you defer the vaccination 60 to 90 days if nag-positive ka," she said, adding that they are just waiting for the final release of guidelines before they can incorporate this to DOH's Deployment and Vaccination Plan.


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