The Department of National Defense on Tuesday announced that anti-COVID 19 vaccines to be donated to it by China will go to employees in different bureaus, except the Armed Forces.
Inoculations will begin upon the delivery of 100,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine that China set aside for the DND through Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe, the DND said in a statement.
The vaccines will be administered to employees assigned to the DND and its civilian bureaus, namely the Office of Civil Defense, Government Arsenal, National Defense College of the Philippines, and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, it said.
Military personnel assigned to those bureaus, as well as civilian employees of the AFP and family members of the department’s employees, are also eligible to receive the donated vaccines.
“The intent is to vaccinate everyone who is in the same working environment and those living in the same households as our employees,” said Arsenio Andolong, DND spokesperson.
“It is crucial that all must be vaccinated to allow us to create a ‘bubble’ of an immunized workforce,” he added.
Andolong, meanwhile, clarified that the AFP’s uniformed personnel will be inoculated under a different vaccine rollout plan.
Earlier, Sen. Risa Hontiveros warned the DND of getting absorbed into China’s “vaccine diplomacy” while that country is aggressively pressing claims in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Uniformed personnel of the AFP are the ones guarding nine islets in the WPS and patrolling surrounding waters, aside from usual security operations inland.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it has granted an emergency use authorization to Sinovac’s vaccine.
This paves the way for inoculations of the Chinese-made vaccine which, according to the manufacturer, would only take a few days to deliver.
The government earlier said it was expecting a donation of 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s vaccine, including those for the DND.
In its announcement, the FDA, however, noted that those vaccines are not recommended for healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19 patients, as well as senior citizens, because of a reported efficacy of only 50.4 percent on those two groups.
Healthcare workers and senior citizens were earlier named by the government as among those who need to get vaccinated first, ahead of the AFP.