Until a government official or public figure is made to account, there will be others who will use name or position to get preferential treatment to access a vaccine.
Whether the shot will be for the first time or as a booster, there will be people in power or with influence who will get the jab they want despite the vaccine shortage in the country. This unfortunate practice will continue unless an example is made of the violators.
San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora admitted on Monday last week that he received two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China and two doses of Pfizer from the United States for a total of four jabs of the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). He got the same “bootleg” vaccine brand, Sinopharm, that was administered to President Rodrigo Duterte in December last year, he said. The government started the vaccination program only last March and Sinopharm was granted emergency use authorization in June.
Since he was immunodeficient, Zamora said his doctors told him to get two booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine. He also said that with Sinopharm he could not travel to other countries such as the United Kingdom.
But a vaccine shot that he was unauthorized to receive is a shot taken away from an unvaccinated person.
The Department of Health (DOH) said doctors and other medical personnel could face charges. How about Zamora?
The DOH is not recommending getting booster shots as there has been no evidence to show it was needed at this point. It may be needed eventually but the government is targeting, for now, the vaccination of at least 70 percent of the population to attain herd immunity. The country is far from reaching that goal.
Before Zamora’s Sinopharm jab, there were others who got jabbed way ahead of March, the start of the vaccination program. These were members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and other government officials. The Senate wanted to investigate the PSG vaccination but Duterte told his security team not to honor the summons. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, which has jurisdiction over the PSG, later announced it will no longer investigate the soldiers involved.
The PSG members were not the only ones who got vaccinated when it was not their turn yet. There were others who received preferential treatment by virtue of their name or position. Actor Mark Anthony Fernandez got jabbed in March when only medical frontliners were scheduled. Local government officials were also identified as those who skipped the vaccine line. They got away with it.
Until violators get punished, there will be those who will also get away with receiving the vaccines in an unauthorized manner. It is not enough to go after medical workers, those who pushed the needle into the person’s arm, and those who authorized it. The persons who received the dose should be made liable. They would not have received the vaccine if they were not who they were.