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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Priority sectors should be identified before COVID-19 vaccine arrives

Open discussion on priority sectors for COVID-19 vaccine needed

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has made it clear he wants the country’s military and police force to get the first jab as soon as the COVID-19 vaccine reaches the Philippines.

Pero gusto ko mauna sila because I do not want a sickly Armed Forces and a sickly police. The reason why is that they have to be in good health all the time. Because they are responsible for the law and order of this country,” said President Duterte during his live conference with select members of the IATF-EID and medical experts Saturday night.

European countries began their massive vaccination drive today with pensioners and medics taking the first shots to halt the pandemic that created mayhem in the economy and lives of millions of people.

Dr. Beaver Tamesis, a cardiologist and president of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) said he is in a way jealous of his medical school classmates in the United States posting photos while being given the needed vaccines.

However, he added, he is contented to be in the Philippines because he doesn’t live in a very high-risk scenario.

“I don’t live inside an ICU or in an infectious disease facility where I need to see all these patients,” he said but added frontline workers should be given the first shot. He saikd second priority in the USA are people living in homes for the aged.

Speaking over COFFEE CHAT early Saturday morning, he said it is imperative to identity the next set of vulnerable persons.

“Is it the fast-food servers, truckers delivering drugs, bus drivers, people that keep the economy going?” Dr. Tamesis asked.

PHAP Executive Director Teodoro Padilla said people who cannot work from home ought to be considered frontline workers and be given priority. He added there should be a way to find out which industries should be given the priority for the vaccine.

Both executives said there should be an open discussion or debate as to who should be given the vaccines first for the general public to know the importance of the program.

Mr. Padilla said unfortunately, the drug industry is not listed among the priority sectors and at the same time recognize people with vulnerabilities.

In separate interviews over COFFEE CHAT Saturday evening, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite and NAGKAISA chairman and Federation of Free Workers President Atty. Sonny Matula said medical frontline workers should be given priority in the vaccination program along with other government employees.

He said while he is aware of government programs for its workers, not all agencies implement the guidelines, particularly on how to attend to employees getting infected with COVID-19.

“The Philippine Coast Guard, in our budget hearing at the House of Representatives, admitted they have a significant number of personnel who got infected with COVID-19,” Rep. Gaite said. He credited the PCG for being at the forefront in attending to returning overseas Filipinos and inspecting cruise and other ships which had COVID-19-afflicted passengers and crew.

He added he supports the move for open discussions as to who should be given priority in the vaccination program.

Atty. Matula said frontline workers should be receive the first jabs as soon as the vaccine arrives in the country.

“The government should also consider the vulnerable sectors of society to receive the vaccine,” Atty. Matula said. He explained frontline workers in both public and private health facilities should be made the priority because they attend to people in need of medical attention. (Melo M. Acuña)

Dr. Beaver Tamesis, PHAP President; Mr. Teodoro Padilla, PHAP Executive Director; Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite and NAGKAISA Chair and FFW President Atty. Sonny Matula. (Screen grab from COFFEE CHAT/Melo Acuna)

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