Cabaero: Changes to priority list

Nini Cabaero
·3 min read

SENIOR citizens awaiting their turn in the government’s vaccination program as part of the country’s Covid-19 response were glad to hear they were next in line.

They are next following the vaccination in March 2021 of 1.7 million health workers. Those aged 60 and above and people of any age with underlying health conditions or comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes or asthma fall under Category A2 of the government’s prioritization framework.

Some local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila have started injecting them with the vaccine against the Sars-CoV-2 that causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). In Cebu City, the LGU has started the registration of those next in line.

Aside from issues of supply, the vaccination program has been marked by people jumping the line of those eligible for the jab. Now we have some House of Representatives members also joining calls to change the priority list to let others go ahead.

The Department of Health (DOH) prioritization framework divides the population into three groups — Priority Eligible A, B, and C. Under Category A are health workers, followed by senior citizens, those with comorbidities, frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed and indigent population. Those in the next category, B, are teachers and social workers, other government workers, other essential workers, overseas Filipino workers, and other remaining workers. Category C covers the rest of the population.

The House committee on health held a hearing Tuesday, March 30, on updates on the government’s Covid-19 response, including the vaccination program and the priority list. In that hearing presided over by committee chairman Rep. Angelina Tan, MD (4th district, Quezon), a House member first asked why not include OFWs in Category A? Others chimed in and said teachers and social workers should be vaccinated together with the senior citizens. They said these teachers and social workers interact with the public and are equally at risk of getting infected.

What’s funny about the recommendations is that the priority list is not even being followed. From the start, when members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) got their jabs as early as October last year, there was no seriousness to follow the prioritization framework.

When the vaccines arrived last March, heath workers were first on the list, but there were mayors and an actor who got their jabs before others in the priority.

I understand the need for OFWs, teachers and social workers to get vaccinated as there are health risks for them and they have their roles in this pandemic. What I find funny is that the list is being ignored anyway by those in government. Starting with the PSG, the mayors and other government officials got the vaccine but didn’t let the public know. What’s the point in revising the priority list when it’s not being followed?

Go ahead and change the priority list because, from what we have seen, government implementors do not pay heed to it.