THERE is a need for a vaccine tracker in the Philippines to ensure transparency in the kind of vaccines approved, their deployment and who gets to be inoculated.
As vaccines are about to arrive in the country, there should be a monitor of where they go and who gets them, especially that there are efforts by some in government to move to the front of the line.
The government wants to centralize the purchase of the vaccine against the Sars-CoV-2 that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to make sense of distribution and make sure the protocols are followed. Lately, however, there have been efforts by some agencies to procure the vaccine for their own members or employees and their families, disregarding the priority listing.
Listed as priority groups in the following order are:
l 1,762,994 frontline health workers in both public and private hospitals and barangay health workers;
l 3,789,874 indigent senior citizens;
l 5,678,544 remaining senior citizens;
l 12,911,193 indigent population; and
l 525,523 uniformed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection and Cafgu.
This Group A list is according to the Department of Health as reported in a four-part series written by Marites Ilano and Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo on the SunStar Philippines website at www.sunstar.com.ph.
The Presidential Security Group (PSG) members probably fall under the same category as other law enforcers but they will get the vaccine jabs soon. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, announced a “compassionate special permit” (CSP) for the use of 10,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to be given to more PSG members and their families. A number of PSG members already got the vaccine last December and they justified their use then and the coming doses now by saying they have to protect President Rodrigo Duterte and they cannot do so if they practice physical distancing.
The CSP sounds like an anomaly since it is the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that is issued by the FDA to allow the use of a vaccine still under development. So far, the FDA has issued EUAs only for the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines.
Then, there is the Supreme Court that approved last week the purchase of vaccines for the entire judiciary. The estimated cost is P19 million for the vaccine jabs for the more than 30,000 members of the judiciary which include all justices, judges, officials and employees. The high court said judiciary members are at risk of infection as they have direct contact with litigants and lawyers on a daily basis.
I cringe at having young and able-bodied individuals getting the shots ahead of the elderly, the indigent and medical workers just because they are in government and can justify being prioritized.
The rollout of vaccines is looking messier by the day. Who can make sense of it? A vaccine tracker should at least be able to show the public who are getting those injections, but it would not correct any inequity and immorality.