COVID-19 vaccines

DOH warns vs jumping vaccine line: ‘COVAX doses may be jeopardized’

Sofia Tomacruz
DOH warns vs jumping vaccine line: ‘COVAX doses may be jeopardized’

PROTECTION. Quezon City private medical practitioners and barangay health workers receive a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine at the Quezon City Vaccine Center in Barangay Talipapa on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

Rappler photo

The Department of Health reiterates that because vaccines are limited, doses should first be given to healthcare workers

The Department of Health (DOH) issued a fresh warning against violating the government’s priority list for coronavirus vaccinations, after it received several reports of non-healthcare workers jumping the line to receive the scarce shots.

“The DOH once again emphasizes that because our vaccines are limited, these doses should first be given to our healthcare workers who most need and deserve it,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

Vergiere reiterated the World Health Organization’s earlier advice that all doses supplied by the COVAX global facility must be given to priority groups agreed upon to receive the vaccines first: health care workers

“All doses must first be administered to the agreed upon priority groups starting with HCWs (healthcare workers). Giving the vaccines to non-HCWs when not all HCWs have been vaccinated will jeopardize succeeding doses from COVAX,” she said. 

Why it matters

The Philippines is expecting to receive free vaccines enough to inoculate up to 15% to 20% of its population from the COVAX facility in 2021. So far, 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine have been delivered to the country, while millions more were expected to arrive in the coming months – if the Philippines can show it has stuck to its commitments when prioritizing the limited vaccines. 

Other vaccines that may be supplied by the WHO through COVAX include Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccines and possibly, Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine if it gains emergency listing from the WHO. 

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SCHEDULE: Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccine deliveries

SCHEDULE: Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccine deliveries

WHO Philippines Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said the health body prioritized both health workers and vulnerable populations at this point in time as global supply of vaccines were still limited. 

“We recognize the need to protect them (other groups) also but in all fairness, we need to protect the health workers and those who are most at risk of dying,” Abeyasighe said earlier. 

The Philippines launched its mass vaccine program on March 1, 2021, with AstraZeneca doses from COVAX and Sinovac doses donated by China. (READ: The day the coronavirus vaccine came)

But even before the first legal vaccination in the country in March, several government officials and President Rodrigo Duterte’s close-in security received vaccines without the required approval of the Food and Drug Administration. (READ: 5 nagging questions the Duterte gov’t has not answered on its use of unregistered vaccines) – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.