Press Release
February 23, 2021

Hontiveros to NTF: Speed up procurement of COVID-19 vaccines effective for health workers use, stay faithful to the priority list

Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the National Taskforce against COVID-19 (NTF) to speed up the procurement of vaccines effective for health workers and high-risk groups after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended against using Sinovac for healthcare workers.

Hontiveros said the NTF should stick to the vaccination prioritization as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) by speeding up procurement of vaccines effective for health workers with high exposure to COVID-19. She warned that rearranging the priority list might lead to further compromise later in the vaccination program. This after reports that Sinovac, which received its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on Monday, would be the first vaccine to arrive in the country.

"Hanggang ngayon, wala pa rin sagot kung nasaan na ang bakunang dapat at angkop para sa ating health workers. Sa mga may EUA, alin doon ang the best para sa kanila? Ito dapat ang inuuna at minamadaling bilhin para sa kanila. Hindi pwedeng maghihintay na lang sila at panay mock vaccine drill at nakikipagpatintero sa mga kaso ng COVID-19 na kanilang kinakaharap araw-araw. Our health workers also have loved ones who they'd like to go home to safely," she said.

"We have to remain faithful to the list from the very start, if not, this might lead to people cutting the line. Magkakagulo lang. Baka mahuli na naman ang health workers. Late na nga ang allowance ng frontliners, late pa yung bakuna. Wala ba tayong utang na loob sa healthcare workers natin?" she remarked.

Hontiveros emphasized the need to guarantee health workers' full protection, including the seniors and other high-risk groups on the priority list. She added that the case fatality rate at 2.16% is currently at its highest since July 2020, most of the recent deaths being among older persons.

"Ang Sinovac ay recommended para sa 18-59 years old lamang. Because of these limits, all the more that the NTF should secure the purchase of sufficient quantities of other brands of vaccines, especially when the health of our elderly is suffering the most. We need a vaccine that will protect them as soon as possible," she said.

Hontiveros added that the NTF needs to immediately update the public about the status of negotiation with all vaccine manufacturers. "Anong stage na ba tayo sa negosasyon? Magkakaroon na ba tayo ng supply delivery soonest? Is the NTF dragging its feet because there is something slowing it down? The NTF should be thinking two steps ahead every time," she said.

"After all they've done for us, the least we can do is make the health of our health workers a priority. Our healthcare system will completely collapse without their service and dedication. Let's ease their anxiety by making sure they can go home safely to their families soon. We cannot abandon them by dilly-dallying," she concluded.

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