Front-line health care workers will not lose their coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination priority slots even if they refuse to get inoculated with the Chinese-based Sinovac Biotech’s vaccines, Malacañang guaranteed on Saturday.
In an online presser, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said medical front-liners have the privilege to choose the vaccine they want.
“Ang pagbabago po sa ating protocol, kung ayaw po ng health care worker ang Sinovac, pupuwede po siyang tumanggi at hindi mawawala ang kaniyang prayoridad kapag dumating na ‘yung bakunang gusto niya (The new protocol is health care workers who do not want Sinovac can refuse to be vaccinated, and they will not lose their priority status when the vaccine they prefer arrive in the country),” Roque said.
He gave the assurance a day before the arrival of 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine, the first batch that will be delivered to the country.
Roque reiterated that medical workers would not be forced into receiving Sinovac vaccine jabs.
“Walang sapilitan. Walang mahuhuli sa pila. Walang mababago sa pila (There will be no coercion. They will not be last in line. There will be no changes in the vaccination priority list),” he said.
Roque, however, clarified that the new rule would only apply to health care workers.
“Pang-health care workers lang po iyan. Sa lahat po, kinakailangan po talaga kung ano ang naririyan ay tatanggapin natin. Kung ayaw naman po ay wala talagang sapilitan (That’s just for health care workers. So the rest must accept whatever vaccine is available. If they do not like it, they will not be forced to have it),” he said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has approved the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the Department of Health’s Technical Advisory Group to allow the administration of Sinovac vaccines to front-line medical workers.
The IATF-EID’s approval came despite results of clinical trials, which showed that Sinovac only has a 50.4-percent efficacy rate among health care workers exposed to Covid-19.
On Wednesday, Roque said the government decided to administer the Sinovac vaccine to “economic front-liners” from 18 to 59 years old.
Roque said Cabinet officials and even Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo may also be among the first in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccines from Sinovac.
In his latest remarks, he said health care workers would still be given priority.
“Inuuna po natin muna ang ating mga health care worker dahil sa pag-aaral mas makakabigay po talaga ng kumpiyansa sa ating taumbayan kung makita nila ang kanilang mga health care worker na naunahang mabakunahan (We will prioritize health care workers because studies have shown that we would be able to boost public confidence if health care workers get inoculated first with the vaccine),” Roque said. (PNA)