Gov't names sectors prioritized for free COVID-19 vaccines, assures eventual rollout for other Filipinos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 6) — With the country's COVID-19 vaccination plan taking shape following the appointment of a czar, Philippine officials on Friday identified sectors that will receive free doses of vaccines under the government's initial procurement.

The Department of Health said included in the list are medical frontliners, barangay health workers, other allied healthcare workers; personnel from the Departments of Education, Social Welfare, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Customs; and other government agencies exposed to the virus due to their line of work.

Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire added that senior citizens, indigent population, and the vulnerable sector will also be included in the priority list.

The health official said this list is based on the pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., adding this is the plan currently in place. The government's initial plan is to procure vaccines for 20 million Filipinos. She said it may be further expanded to include more groups if the country can procure more vaccines at an affordable price.

"Gusto ng Pangulo and gusto natin na mabakunahan ang lahat ng populasyon natin kaya lang alam natin there is restricted supply dahil lahat ng bansa gusto makakuha nito at hindi ganoong karami ang supply," she said in a media briefing.

[Translation: The President wants us to vaccinate everyone, we want that, too. But we know there will be a restricted supply due to high demand.]

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also reiterated Duterte's wish to inoculate police personnel and soldiers first. He also assured that the free vaccination program will eventually be rolled out to the rest of the country's population, citing the Universal Health Care Law.

Galvez said the mass vaccination against coronavirus in the country may happen by the end of 2021, but he remains hopeful that it could also happen by May 2021.