Press Release
March 7, 2021

Follow law on vaccine rollout or risk losing Covax vaccine supply: Pangilinan

SENATOR Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan appeals to government to respect its own guidelines and priority list and to refrain from violating them and skipping to the head of the queue for the limited Covid-19 vaccine shots.

"Nakasaad sa batas na sinertify as urgent at ipinasa ng Senado na dapat inuuna ang mga health workers sa mga bakuna dahil sila ang nasa unahan ng pakikipaglaban sa virus (It is specified in the law certified as urgent and passed by the Senate that health workers, being at the forefront in the fight against the virus, must be first in line)," Pangilinan said, citing Republic Act 11525.

Noting the recent spike in Covid cases and the emergence of new strains, Pangilinan said Republic Act 11525 or the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act passed by Congress lists the hierarchy on the priority list for those who need to get vaccinated: healthcare workers, senior citizens, people with co-morbidities, frontline personnel including uniformed personnel and teachers, and indigent population.

"Di ba sa eroplano pag may emergency, pinauuna ang mga magulang sa pagsuot ng life vest at oxygen mask para mapangalagaan din niya ang kasamang anak? Ganun din dito. Inuuna muna ang pwedeng mag-alaga sa mga vulnerable, pagkatapos ang vulnerable (In an airplane emergency, aren't parents told to put on their life vest and oxygen mask first to enable them to look after the children with them? This is the same thing here. Priority are those who can care for the vulnerable and then the vulnerable)," he said.

"'Ika nga, yung mga hindi nakasakay sa eroplano, hindi kasama. Usapin ito ng kalusugan kaya unahin ang makakasiguro ng kalusugan ng sambayanan at ng ekonomiya (Those who aren't on the plane, so to speak, are not on the list. That's why we need to prioritize those who will ensure the health of our people and the economy)," he added.

Pangilinan's reminder also comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) made a statement noting that the Philippine officials' disregard of the priority list may "impact and jeopardize future deliveries of vaccines through the Covax facility" to the country.

The Covax Facility is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to the vaccines.

WHO has advised that priority groups should include healthcare workers on the frontlines followed by people over the age of 65, and the rest of the population.

Pangilinan reminded that the goal is to curb the infection, reduce deaths, and protect the healthcare system, which can only happen if those most in need of the vaccine receive it first.

Amid the scarce supply, vaccines have come in trickles in the country with the first shipment of 600,000 doses of China's Sinovac arriving last Sunday followed by 487,200 doses from AstraZeneca.

At the same time, Pangilinan, who in December 2020 called attention to the spotty government vaccine roll-out, said that getting the shot and which brand remains the decision of the health worker.

"Dahil sa kanilang napakahalagang papel ng pag-aalaga sa atin, kailangan nauuna silang napoproteksyunan sa trabaho, bahay, at pamayanang kinabibilangan nila (Given the critical role they play in caring for others, continued protection for them at work, home, and in the community should be a priority)," Pangilinan said.

"Kung hindi natin po-protektahan ang ating front-liners, lahat tayo nasa panganib (If we don't protect and strengthen our front-liners, then all of us at the back will be in danger)," he added.

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