WHO warns against deviating from prioritization framework

MANILA. Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, director of the UP Philippine General Hospital, is the first to receive the Sinovac vaccine on March 1, 2021. (File)

FAILURE to follow the prioritization framework in the implementation of the vaccination program against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) could put vaccine shipments from the Covax facility at risk, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

Under prioritization roadmap of the WHO, the first to receive the vaccines should be the healthcare workers, elderly and people with comorbidities.

“If we want to ensure that we continue to access the vaccines from the Covax facility, we need to demonstrate that we can follow this prioritization,” WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in a virtual briefing.

“If we cannot demonstrate that we are following this prioritization, unfortunately the Covax may have to consider other options where the impact of the vaccine rollout will be more useful and practical and will contribute to saving more lives,” he added.

The Covax facility is a global initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to the vaccines and ensure the immunization of the priority population who are considered as the most vulnerable to Covid-19.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque earlier said he has ordered the conduct of investigation into the vaccination of some government officials using the Sinovac vaccines.

Among the non-health workers who received the vaccine were Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Eric Domingo, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, Pasay City Vice Mayor Noel Boyet Del Rosario, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chief of staff Michael Salalima and Manila Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan, who is also a doctor.

Only vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force against Covid-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon and Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos were ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to be vaccinated to boost vaccine confidence.

Galvez said he will also ask concerned agencies to look into the vaccination of House health committee chairperson Angelina Tan, who is also a doctor.

In her defense, Tan said she should not be investigated as she is still considered a medical frontliner since she has continued to make weekly rounds to provide free consultation.

"Got it as a frontliner and not just a mother of a frontliner," she said.

Galvez urged government officials to wait for their turn and give way to health workers as they are more vulnerable to the infection.

“Yun nga ang sinasabi ng (Health Secretary Francisco Duque III) na if we deprive one dose for one healthcare worker baka mamaya maging victim ng Covid. It will be a moral obligation for us,” he said.

“We are asking all our leaders na kung puwede i-dedicate muna natin sa healthcare workers ito pong AstraZeneca at saka Sinovaac considering na tapusin muna natin yung healthcare workers at senior citizens,” he added.

Beverly Ho, DOH director for Promotion and Communication Service, cited the finding of focus group discussions (FGD) and social media posts that the public confidence in vaccines is likely to increase after they see officials get it first.

“The FGD just showed na ito ‘yung gusto nilang makita na, ‘Ah, actually even leaders pala gagawin. Mauna kayo bago kami.’ That’s actually the narrative we see in social media so that’s also what we’ve gotten from the FGDs,” she said in a virtual press briefing.

She said, however, that the health workers should still be inoculated first because of the limited supply. (SunStar Philippines)


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