DepEd urges staff who are seniors, with comorbidities to get COVID-19 shots

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday, April 22, urged its personnel – teaching and non-teaching – who are seniors and have comorbidities to register for COVID-19 vaccination in their respective local government units (LGUs).

In a statement sent to reporters, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the vaccination of the DepEd personnel will "play a huge role in our bid for our learners' return to school."

The DepEd reminded its personnel that they could already register for the vaccine shots ahead of the inoculation of the A4 priority list.

"Napakalaking jump nito para sa mga teachers, magandang magandang balita para sa lahat. Matagal na namin itong kinakausap at kinakampanya para masama ang teachers sa mauna na mababakunahan sa A-list at galing sa B," Briones added.

(It's a huge jump for teachers, it's a good news for everyone. We lobbied the inclusion of our teachers in the vaccine priority group from B group to A-list.)

The DepEd said that vaccine recipients are requested to note their vaccination details, including the registration and the vaccination card for documentation and monitoring purposes within the agency.

On April 16, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the government coronavirus task force has approved the inclusion of more sectors eligible to get COVID-19 shots as economic frontliners, including frontline personnel in basic education and higher education institutions and agencies, in the A4 group.

The inclusion of basic education frontliners addressed earlier calls by lawmakers like Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto who stressed the importance of inoculating teachers after health workers to  help restore "normalcy" in the education sector.

The government has been vaccinating A1 to A3 groups, which include healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that once the country's vaccine stocks become stable, the government can do the simultaneous vaccination of the A4 list with the first 3 priority groups.

Rely on credible sources of vaccine info

Briones also appealed to teachers to only rely on "credible and official sources" of vaccine information, such as the Department of Health's (DOH) and LGUs' websites and social media accounts.

"I am encouraging everyone to be proactive in learning about the vaccine and the vaccination program, and to make an informed choice about the matter," she said.

Despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos remained high as 6 out of 10 Filipinos do not want to be inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey released last March, prior to the surge in cases.

Vaccine fears fanned by the Dengvaxia scare had pulled down immunization rates in the country, even for proven vaccines.

In 2020, schools opened using distance learning – a mix of online, printed modules, and TV/radio lessons – following President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to suspend face-to-face classes until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available.

School year 2020-2021 will end on July 10. It's not yet certain if the next school year will also use the distance learning system, which has been criticized as the country appeared to be not fully prepared for it.

Several lawmakers and groups have been pushing for the resumption of limited face-to-face classes to "finetune" the system. –

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.