Tourism workers should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations – DOT chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8)— Tourism workers and employees should be considered as one of the next priority sectors in the country’s vaccination program against COVID-19, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said on Monday.

“Of course (they should be prioritized),” Puyat said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.

Puyat added she was “assured” by officials that the sector she leads would be next in line for the inoculation drive, after the health frontliners and other vulnerable groups. She did not detail who the concerned parties were.

“We were already assured that after all of the priorities, it would be the tourism,” she said, citing the sector’s immense contributions to economy and employment. “So definitely tourism should really be prioritized and we were assured that the tourism workers would be prioritized.”

The Philippines launched its much-awaited coronavirus vaccination program last week, with healthcare workers and some government officials getting the first shots of China’s Sinovac vaccine. The country also received in the past few days vaccines from British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca, which were supplied by the COVAX facility. COVAX is a global initiative that aims to ensure that low- and middle-income countries get equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

LIST: Priority sectors, subgroups in COVID-19 vaccination program

Government officials earlier expressed hope that inoculation for the general public may begin as early as May, with the government setting its sight on vaccinating 50 to 70 million Filipinos by year-end.