The Philippine government today approved what it calls the A4 vaccination priority list, which includes teachers, grocery workers, market vendors, and media workers, among others.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that the A4 group includes:
- Vendors in public and private wet and dry markets
- Workers in groceries, supermarkets, and delivery services
- Employees working in companies that make food, beverage, medical, and pharmaceutical products
- Food retail workers, including delivery people
- Frontline workers in private and government financial services
- Frontline workers in hotels and other types of accommodation
- Priests, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders
- Security guards and other similar personnel working in offices, agencies, and organizations included in the list of “priority” industries
- Frontline workers in news media
- Customer-facing workers of telecoms, cable and internet service providers, electricity distribution, and water distribution companies
- Overseas Filipino workers
- Personnel working for the Philippines’ law, security, and social protection sectors
- People working in the government’s transport system, quarantine inspection
- Those involved in worker safety inspection and other COVID-19 response activities
- Those involved in tax collection, assessment of businesses for incentives, election, national ID, and data collection
- The diplomatic community and the Department of Foreign Affairs’ personnel working in various consular offices
- Department of Public Works and Highways workers who monitor government projects
At present, the government is inoculating people in the A1 category, composed of healthcare workers and other personnel working in hospitals and clinics; A2, Filipinos aged 60 and above; and A3, those with comorbidities such as obesity and diabetes. However, some areas such as Quezon City and Antipolo City have said that they are running out of vaccines and are waiting for the Department of Health to provide them with more.
In a publicly broadcast briefing last night, President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that his government is struggling to procure vaccines and that he had no idea when these will be delivered. His vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. has said in several public interviews and briefings that millions are on the way, but it appears that they won’t be finding their way into the Philippines anytime soon.
It was in September 2020 when Duterte publicly blasted Western pharmaceutical companies for asking for advance payment for COVID vaccines before their effectiveness could be proven. He accused pharma companies of being money-grabbing capitalists and added that he preferred to get his vaccines from Russia or China.
The Philippines currently has vaccines from AstraZeneca and Sinovac. The former was donated by the COVAX facility, while Sinovac’s CoronaVac was procured by the Philippines, with some donated doses thrown in by the Chinese government. Duterte’s team had already ordered from Russia, but the doses have yet to arrive in the country.
India, where many of the world’s vaccines are being manufactured, has had to stop the exportation of these drugs due to skyrocketing numbers of COVID cases. It plans to resume exportation in June if its coronavirus cases are controlled.
The United States purchased 800 million doses of vaccines in August 2020, ahead of most countries in the world. Experts say that vaccine nationalism could hinder the march to global herd immunity, with countries in the Global South unable to purchase potent drugs to innoculate their people. World leaders have urged the US and other nations to release their excess supplies of vaccines so that other countries could use them.
The Philippines is aiming to vaccinate 70 million people this year, but as of this week, only 1.1 million have received one dose and 162,065 are fully vaccinated. The country has 183,527 active cases of COVID with 15,594 deaths. Overall, the country has logged a total of 904,285 cases since the pandemic started in 2020.