Students are the 12th and last in the list of priorities as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is approved and made available to the country, the Department of Health (DOH) disclosed Wednesday.

000 1WY1LF - Gov’t lists priority groups to access COVID-19 vaccine
(Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

In a briefing given to the House Committee on People’s Participation by government agencies involved in the COVID-19 vaccination, DOH representative, Dr. Aleli Annie Grace Sudiacal, made it clear that the prioritization of sectors lining up for vaccine protection will only be carried out based on the availability of supply.

“We hope people will not misconstrue that they are not priority,” Sudiacal, director of the Bureau of International Health Cooperation, stressed.

San Jose del Monte Rep. Rida Robes, chairperson of the people’s participation panel, said the prioritization list is clearly based on close analysis of the COVID-19 situation, adding that vaccine czar and national task force on COVID -19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez is for swiftly addressing the prioritization issue.

“IATF’s handling of the anti-pandemic program has also been cited by other countries as successful.  We found solutions to the worst problems faced by the country,” Robes said.

The priority eligible groups as presented by Sudiacal:

First priority:  Frontline health workers numbering about 1,762,994 from both public and private sector;

Second priority:   Indigent senior citizens estimated at around 3,789,874 in number

Third priority; Remaining 5,678,544 senior citizens

Fourth Priority – Remaining indigent population estimated at 12,911,193

Fifth priority – Uniformed personnel, 525,523

6th Priority – Teachers and school workers in both private and public institutions

7th Priority – All government workers from national agencies and local government units

8th Priority – Essential workers in agriculture, food industry, transportation, and tourism

9th Priority –  Sociodemographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigent populations such as persons deprived of liberty; persons with disabilities, and Filipinos living in high density areas;

10th Priority – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)

11th Priority – Other remaining work force

12th Priority – Students

Sudiacal said that a prioritization list has become imperative because “we do not know yet the kind of vaccine to be approved and when it will come out.”

She noted countries grappling with the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic are also lining up to access the first available vaccine that will be manufactured.

“We really have to prioritize based on the available supply,” the DOH official explained.

Nevertheless, Sudiacal assured lawmakers that the Philippines has a good “fighting chance” of accessing the first available and effective anti-COVID 19 vaccine thru the COVAX facility of the World Health Organization. 

“We will not rely on one source. Maraming bansa nag-aagawan na  ngunit tayo naman ay kumakausap  through bilateral discussion and exploratory discussions directly to manufacturers (There are many countries competing but we have started discussions)” said Sudiacal. 

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