Promises, Promises: A4 to be vaccinated in May or June, says Nograles

A woman getting vaccinated in Pasig City. Photo: Pasig Information Office/FB
A woman getting vaccinated in Pasig City. Photo: Pasig Information Office/FB

Are you included in the government’s A4 vaccination list? You might have to wait for a little bit because those included in the A4 category will be inoculated in either May or June, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said today.

“A4, it will come once we have more vaccines and we are done with A1 to A3. So presumably based on the timelines that we’re looking at, this would probably start around the end of May to maybe June. Because that’s the time when we have gotten more vaccines,” Nograles said in English and Filipino in an interview on the news program Headstart. 

“Maybe from mid-May to June, we will get the bulk of vaccines that we expect for Quarter 2 then for Quarter 3. Obviously, we will get more vaccines so probably mid-May to June, we can vaccinate those in A4,” he added.

Read: Delivery workers, market vendors, media employees included in PH’s A4 vaccine priority list

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.

Meanwhile, the A4 category is pretty broad: it includes market vendors, priests, media workers, and delivery guys, just to name a few.

President Rodrigo Duterte has 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 they remain out of sight.

Read: Just Make It Happen: PH negotiating for 20 to 40 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

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.

Read: ‘You must be crazy’: Duterte slams Western firms for asking advance pay on COVID vax

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 innoculate 70 million people this year, but as of this week, only 1.26 million doses have been given, with more than 162,000 people getting dully vaccinated.

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