Local execs raised to A1.5 level in the priority list reasonable

    All 1,600 local executives from governors to mayors, after an appeal from the League of Provinces of the Philippines, have been approved to be included in the priority list right next the health care workers, A1.5 regardless of their respective local government unit’s risk classification

    MANILA — All 1,600 local executives “are equally frontliners because all our strategies are handled by local officials,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr says.

    “Mayors and governors are enforcing the prevention, detection, isolation, treatment and rehabilitation, the cornerstone of our COVID program. They implement localized lockdowns, they implement the vaccination and they are really our instruments in the fight against COVID-19,” Roque explains.

    He says by June, the vaccination of individuals under the A4 and A5 priority listing in the Government’s vaccine program will be underaken simultaneously, counterinng the claim of public health advocate Dr Tony Leachon, who said that the country cannot achieve herd immunity by December at the rate the current rollout is run.

    “It has always been the plan that once our supply increases, we will open the vaccination to the A4 and A5. What we will do is we will vaccinate the A4 and A5 simultaneously and it will start in June, if not even earlier, possibly within the last week of May. Let’s see,” he added.

    Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also agrees with the inclusion of local executives, saying that they are frequently exposed to the virus being part of the Government’s COVID-response team.

    “They are going around the barangays to check and ensure proper response in this pandemic. That is why the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) decided, in concurrence with the NITAG (National Immunization Technical Advisory Group), to vaccinate them,” says Vergeire.

    With more vaccines now available, Vergeire says local executives can already be included in the priority list. The inoculation of local officials will boost vaccine confidence among their constituents, she says.

    However, Vergeire cautions those who are not part of the priority sectors to wait their turn and refrain from going to vaccination sites in an attempt to get inoculated.

    “One issue we have is if you go there and you are not vaccinated, you are exposing yourself to many people and you may get sick. So it would be better to wait for your turn,” she says.

    Vergeire assures the public that there are sufficient vaccines for the Government to expand vaccination to other priority groups.

    In achieving herd immunity, the Government targets to vaccinate 25 million people by the end of the third quarter. As of 15 May, more than 2.9 million Filipinos have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 714,432 individuals have been given their second shot. (LO/The MiNT)

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