DOH looking into possible breach of protocol in vaccination

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 6) — The Department of Health said they are now looking into a breach in the priority list for vaccination.

“We had our legal service review already our provisions with the different resolution even in the IATF resolutions,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

She added that discussions are also ongoing regarding possible sanctions to violators, like the filing of an administrative case if the violator is a government official.

This is after some government officials jumped the priority list for COVID-19 vaccines intended to first immunize the country’s health workers.

On Friday, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque acknowledged that there was a breach in the priority list when Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya and MMDA Chief of Staff Michael Salalima got their vaccine shots this week. He said the two officials did it “in good faith,” claiming they were prompted by officials of the Pasay General Hospital to enhance vaccine confidence.

Pasay City Vice Mayor Noel Boyet del Rosario, who is not a medical frontliner, also received a vaccine shot.

Doing the same thing on the AstraZeneca vaccines, which came from the COVAX facility, “might jeopardize succeeding supplies since an agreement was signed that their rollout must follow the framework set by the World Health Organization, Vergeire noted.

"We will all have our turn. Pabayaan muna yung healthcare workers na makakakuha muna [ng bakuna]," she said.

[Translation: Let us let our healthcare workers receive their vaccine first.]

The government already rejected the recommendation to prioritize “influencers” to improve vaccine confidence among Filipinos. The interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group pointed out that the vaccines should be first used to protect health workers.

DOH chief Francisco Duque III also said that hospital chiefs volunteering to get vaccinate first are enough to encourage more to do the same.

“Let’s maintain the framework, and then we will have the value and role of our influencers in the succeeding sectors of priority,” Vergeire said.

The country currently has around 1 million doses of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines, still not enough to immunized 1.7 million health workers.