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Prioritization in vaccine distribution

As frontliners in our fight against COVID-19, it is but natural that we give them protection against the virus.

Harry Roque

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With the recent steps taken by the Philippine government toward securing supplies of coronavirus vaccines for Filipinos, the national government reiterated the prioritization strategy that has been laid out for the vaccination program against COVID-19.

The primary goal in our government’s prioritization strategy for the equitable distribution of COVID vaccines is to directly reduce morbidity and mortality, as well as to maintain the most critical essential services. Secondary goals are to substantially control the transmission of the virus and to minimize the disruption of social, economic and security functions.

With these considerations, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) identified geographical priorities in the distribution of the vaccine, giving precedence to areas that have high number of active COVID-19 cases. These include Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao.

From geographical priorities, sectoral priorities will be identified. In one of our most recent IATF meetings, these sectoral priorities were further defined to identify who will be among the first to receive the vaccine.

Following the vaccine prioritization goals, frontline healthcare workers will be the first to receive the vaccine. Obviously, we have to prioritize them so they may fulfill their duties without hesitation. As frontliners in our fight against COVID-19, it is but natural that we give them protection against the virus.

Frontline health workers who will be receiving the vaccine first will include health workers in both public and private health facilities, public health workers including contact tracers of local government units, barangay health workers, among others.

Next in the vaccine priority list are the elderly indigent citizens followed by the rest of the senior population. We all know that the elderly belongs to the vulnerable population and are susceptible to diseases which puts them high up in the priority list for the vaccine.

The elderly will be followed by the rest of the indigent population, as it is this Administration’s policy to look after the welfare of those who are most in need. As I have previously announced, all those who are included in the list of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps beneficiaries will be prioritized for the vaccine, including all indigents.

Lastly, all uniformed personnel will be among the ones who will first receive the vaccine. This is to ensure that there will be no disruption in ensuring peace, order and security, and because uniformed personnel will be assisting healthcare workers in the distribution of the vaccines nationwide.

This priority population comprises more than 24.6 million Filipinos or 22.8 percent of the country’s total population. The government’s plan to order 60 million doses of vaccine will more than cover this target number of people as it will be good for 30 million people.

In my press briefing last week, I had as guest JG Summit Holdings president and CEO Lance Gokongwei who said the private sector has so far committed more than three million doses of the vaccine, which costs about P800 million. Mr. Gokongwei’s company is one of the private entities that are part of the government-private sector initiative that is raising funds to secure doses of COVID vaccines for the Philippines.

What is left for us to do now is to convince Filipinos to be confident in being vaccinated as these vaccines have gone through processes to ensure its efficacy and safety. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself is more than willing to be the first to be vaccinated as soon as our Food and Drug Administration approves a vaccine.

As vaccines against COVID-19 are slowly becoming a reality for many nations, I think is important for us now to trust the vaccines, the experts who developed and evaluated these vaccines and the whole vaccination process. Getting vaccinated is the only way that we can protect ourselves and others against the virus, stop its transmission and get our normal lives back.

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