COVID-19 vaccines

DOH reminds LGUs: Follow COVID-19 vaccine priority list

Bonz Magsambol
DOH reminds LGUs: Follow COVID-19 vaccine priority list

VACCINATION. An elderly gets her first dose of the Astrazeneca vaccine during the night vaccination drive at the Isabelo delos Reyes Elementary School in Tondo, Manila on May 13.

RAPPLER

The Department of Health reminds local governments that not prioritizing health workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities may compromise future vaccine supplies from the COVAX facility

The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, May 21, reminded local government units (LGUs) to follow the COVID-19 vaccine prioritization list, following reports that people who were not health workers, senior citizens, or persons with comorbidities already got jabs in some areas.

“We would like to explain [to] and remind our local government units that we have to follow the prioritization framework that we have especially for those COVAX-provided vaccines, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

She noted that these vaccines should only be given to A1 (health workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (people with comorbidities) priority groups.

Vergeire added, “‘Yan pong AstraZeneca at Pfizer na mayroon tayo, ‘yan po ay provided by COVAX under specific conditions (The AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses that we have were provided by COVAX under specific conditions).”

The COVAX Facility is an initiative co-led by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to ensure developing nations have access to affordable vaccines.

Under COVAX rules, the vaccines it provides to countries should be given to the vulnerable sectors of their population, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

The Philippines has so far received over 2.7 million vaccine doses from the COVAX facility. (READ: TRACKER: The Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccine distribution)

Vulnerable sectors first

Vergeire warned that not prioritizing the A1 to A3 groups may compromise the future vaccine supplies of the Philippines – which is suffering one of the worst outbreaks in Southeast Asia – from the COVAX facility.

She said if qualified people do not show up on their vaccination date, local governments should refer to their respective quick substitution lists (QSLs) that should consist of people from the A1 to A3 groups.

“We’re urging and reminding our local government units to use your quick substitution list. The quick substitution list should also include the A1 to A3 individuals so that we don’t jump to other sectors that are not their turn yet and we vaccinate our vulnerable sectors,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Vergeire issued the statement after reports that some LGUs offered their COVID-19 vaccines to people from non-priority groups because only a few individuals availed of vaccination in their barangays, and also to prevent wasted doses.

Substitution list still includes priority groups

Under the DOH’s vaccination guidelines, vaccination sites should prepare a QSL “in case of non-attendance of the initially identified eligible recipients of the vaccines.”

The protocol is that those included in the QSL hould be from the facilities or sites “within the same zone, province, highly urbanized city, or independent component city, provided that identification of recipients is based on the same priority group.”

The government aims to begin vaccinating those under the A4 (economic frontliners) and A5 (indigent Filipinos) groups by June.

Aside from the global shortage on vaccine supplies, many Filipinos are still hesitant against getting vaccinated, especially outside Metro Manila. A Social Weather Stations survey held from April 28 to May 2 showed that the percentage of those willing to be vaccinated is highest in Metro Manila and lowest in the rest of Luzon. – Rappler.com

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.