Solon pushes for giving priority to the labor force in COVID-19 vaccination

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) — A lawmaker said the working population should be prioritized once a COVID-19 vaccine is available as they are key to the recovery and growth of the economy.

“We need workers who are COVID- free and we need them also to be part of the priority of our vaccination activities hopefully by next year,” Bohol 1st District Rep. Edgar Chatto said during the Health department budget hearing.

"This is very much related to our efforts to recover as a country," he added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said under their original proposal, vaccine procurement would cost P12 billion, but only P2.5 billion was approved under the National Expenditure Program that can cover immunization for 3,871 people.

Duque said the priority will be medical frontliners in public hospitals, the health, education and social welfare departments, as well as the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Corrections, police, military and poor senior citizens.

Meanwhile, Duque said the Department of Finance is working on a loan to purchase 40 million doses of vaccine good for 20 million Filipinos.

In July, President Rodrigo Duterte said the administration has enough funds to purchase and distribute free vaccines to 20 million Filipinos, with an estimated cost of P20 billion.