Once the government completes vaccinating those in the priority list, the rest of us will also get vaccinated for free. Now, here’s the plan.
Days after vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. pronounced in a press briefing that the general population may get vaccinated starting late April to early May of 2021, the second batch of donated vaccines from Sinovac arrived to complete a total of 1M doses so far from the Chinese company. Around 1M more doses from the same manufacturer is a government purchase.
As of this writing, government is still negotiating for more COVID-19 vaccines from various manufacturers around the world to fulfill around 110M vaccines that would hopefully get us to the end goal: herd immunity. This means inoculating about 70% of our current population. The earliest possible timeline to achieve this is by the end of this year – that is, if we can procure enough vaccines.
As the National Task Force Against Covid-19 continues to obtain the vaccines we need, NewsFeed360 sat down with Department of Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire to discuss what the rest of us in the population can expect once our turn is up.
“Sa ngayon that we have the scarcity of resources when it comes to vaccines, wala pa tayong option para makapamili ng ating bakuna; although the healthcare workers were given that option at the start when they were offered Sinovac, and we call it the right to first refusal,” Usec Vergeire said. “Our protocol would be that we finish a specific sector first bago tayo pupunta sa susunod na sector.”
To avoid wastage of available vaccines, hospitals are required to refer to their own “quick substitution list” where they have a replacement for every individual who would turn down the vaccine being offered.
Right now, DOH has started vaccinating those who fall under Priority Eligible Group A of the National Vaccine Deployment and Vaccination Plan. They are the frontline health workers, public health workers, barangay health and emergency response teams, and others working in the frontline for general health to complete around 1.8M total individual healthcare workers in the country today. Inoculation for senior citizens and persons with comorbidities has also started in some areas. According to the DOH plan, the indigent citizens and uniformed personnel should be next.
Priority B are teachers and school workers, government workers, essential workers (those providing basic services through transportation, food distribution, water supply, etc.), indigenous peoples, Persons with Disabilities, Persons Deprived of Liberty, Overseas Filipino Workers, and other groups determined by various government agencies. Priority C covers the rest of the Filipino citizens.
Since resources are scarce around the globe, there is no guarantee that we can get all the vaccines that we ordered. This is why the Philippines is relying on the advice of WHO and other experts to give priority to the vulnerable groups.
“Yung mga vulnerable population natin, sila yung mga nao-ospital, sila yung maaaring mamatay, sila yung nakakabigay ng stress sa health system natin. So our short-term goal sa ngayon is to ease that burden sa health system,” Vergeire said.
While it may seem that it might take a while for the vaccines to trickle down to the rest of the population, it still helps to know how we can prepare ourselves once we get the formal announcement from our respective LGUs.
Below are the steps you need to take, as well as certain processes you can expect for general vaccination:
- Go to your LGU coordinator to register for vaccination and be included in the master list.
- LGU coordinator will give your schedule as to when and where to go for your vaccination.
- On the vaccination site, you will go through screening and profiling to determine your readiness for vaccination. This includes questions on medical history, allergies, etc.
- Those with comorbidities must bring with them a medical certificate that says they are cleared by their physician for vaccination.
- Doctors will also be available on the vaccination site to examine and give clearance to those who do not have their own physician.
- Those who do not pass the screening will be deferred to another schedule, unless otherwise advised by a physician. Those who have had COVID infection need to be clear of the virus for 90 days before they can be vaccinated.
- You will be assigned your own QR code to avoid duplication or mix-up of personal details for vaccine administration. This will be kept in the government’s Vaccine Information Management System.
- You will be asked to sign an “informed consent” form before the vaccine is administered to you.
- After the vaccine has been administered, you will be observed on site for possible adverse reaction for 15 to 30 minutes. Those who show allergic reaction will be given immediate medical attention and will further be observed for an hour.
- You will be given your own vaccination card that will serve as your proof of vaccination. It will also include the schedule of your next vaccination for the second dose, as well as a number that you can call in case of late adverse reaction once you’re at home.
- An LGU coordinator will inform or call you in case you miss the schedule for the second dose.
According to Vergeire, Philippine LGUs are equipped with the right knowledge and training when it comes to vaccination procedures – from storage to administration and disposal – since the country has a decades-old vaccination program that LGUs implement. In the case of COVID vaccines, however, not all will be distributed straight to LGUs. Certain vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna have technical storage requirements, and are therefore strategically assigned to capable storage facilities in the country. The distribution system involves a third-party logistics team properly equipped to transport these vaccines to their destinations.
Until the entire population has been vaccinated, or when herd immunity is met, DOH strongly recommends everyone to continue observing standard health protocols. This is especially important since infection rate has been rising daily recently.
“Ang isang virus, normal sa kanya na nagmu-mutate sya at nagpo-produce sya ng mga variants. That’s the normal evolution of a virus. But the virus can only do this if there are hosts na pwede nyang gawan nitong mutations. So as long as transmission is occurring, as long as cases are high, the virus will continue to mutate and produce these variants,” Vergeire emphasized.
Vergeire is confident that the country’s health system can endure the pandemic for as long as all sectors cooperate. She pointed out that for over a year now, we have taken strides and continue to learn from the experience. From just one laboratory in RITM, we now have 225 laboratories across the country. From one quarantine facility in March 2020 in New Clark City, there are now about 14,000 beds for temporary treatment and monitoring facilities across the country. But this, she said, also requires cooperation from the general public.
“Wala pang bakuna na nagawa na nakaka-block ng transmission ng sakit,” Vergeire concluded.
About the Writer
beingKirei keeps two personal blogsites: beingKirei and Virtual Cubicle. She created these initially for self-expression, but she realized that she can do more with her God-given writing gift. Finding inspiration in Proverbs 31:8 (Speak for those who cannot speak; seek justice for all those on the verge of destruction), she started writing about people she meets and have meaningful conversations with. She found some of their stories need to be told and inspire others. She contributes to NewsFeed 360 on top of working in the editorial department of WSP Inc.. Aside from writing, she tries to learn photography, play the ukulele and guitar, and read until she falls asleep.
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