Galvez: Other essential workers may climb up vaccine priority list

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 2) — Other frontline workers may also be among the first ones to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as the government considers the implementation of a "flexible" vaccination framework, Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Tuesday.

In a government briefing in Malacañang, Galvez said like other countries, the Philippines must adjust its vaccination framework as some Filipinos who are part of the upper list of priority groups but cannot be inoculated due to "complications," may pave the way for others to get the doses ahead of them.

"Nakita natin sa experience sa Israel or US, dapat maging flexible ang framework. Nakikita po natin meron sa first priority, for example, meron po talagang hindi magpapabakuna because of complications," he said.

[Translation: We see in the experience of Israel or US, a flexible framework is needed. We can see that among those who are part of the first priority, for example, there really are some who won't receive the vaccine because of complications.]

According to Galvez, President Rodrigo Duterte would have also wanted these essential workers to be prioritized as these are also the "drivers of the economy" who can help the country recover from its slump.

"Iaakyat natin ang ating essential workers kasi essential workers sa food production, transportation, farming, at sa tinatawag nating consumer production," he said.

[Translation: We will move these essential workers up, because these are essential workers in the field of food production, transportation, farming, and what we call consumer production.]

"Ito talaga kasama rin po ito sa bracket na, gusto rin po ng ating mahal na Presidente [dahil] poor families rin po ito, mga low-earning people at saka informal workers, and these are the drivers of the economy."

[Translation: They are also included in the bracket, which our beloved President earlier noted as part of poor families, low-earning people and informal workers, and these are the drivers of the economy.]

Those who are part of the top priority groups are health workers, indigent senior citizen, remaining senior citizens, remaining indigent population, and uniformed personnel.

Other essential workers outside health, education, and social welfare sectors are eighth on the list. Citing the Philippine Statistics Authority, Galvez earlier said at least 1.7 million eligible Filipinos fall under this category.

The Philippine economy shrank by another 8.3% in the last three months of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic crippled consumer spending and business activity, bringing full-year economic growth to -9.5% in 2020, the PSA earlier reported.

Galvez said, prioritizing this group can help bring back consumer confidence, preserve economic institutions, and even protect other health workers and frontliners.