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Non-priority individuals jump the line to get vaccinated, DOH official says

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Mar 22, 2021 3:49 pm

There are non-frontliners who are jumping the line to get vaccinated, in defiance of the government's vaccination protocol.

The government's COVID-19 vaccination campaign, which started on March 1, stated that frontline healthcare workers will be prioritized and will be given the jab first.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart Monday, Health Undersecretary Dr. Leopoldo Vega said there are reports of individuals who are not in the priority group who are getting the jab.

"We’ve had reports of this. Although we've been saying this can’t be because we have a prioritized vaccination in terms of health workers. This has been observed. The numbers are very insignificant but we do see a number jumping the queue,” said Vega, who is also the country’s COVID-19 treatment czar.

Department of Health Undersecretary Dr. Leopoldo Vega. Screenshot from ANC's Headstart

According to Vega, queue jumping happens across the globe and it could not be avoided oftentimes.

“Sometimes it happens, there is jumping in the queue, but very minimal,” he said.

When asked where the vaccines used for the non-frontliners came from—either from the donated AstraZeneca jabs from the COVID-19 Vaccines  Global Access (COVAX), or from the donated Sinovac vaccines from China—Vega said he was not sure.

“I’m not sure of the specifics but I am aware that there are those who really are jumping on the queue, but this should be avoided because definitely, this is not a priority of the vaccination process that we have.”

For possible penalties on non-compliance with the government’s priority list protocols, Vega said he leaves it to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group.

Vega said 71 to 75% of healthcare workers in Metro Manila have already been inoculated with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, while only about 35% of healthcare workers in the provinces were vaccinated.

So far, “below 50 percent” have been vaccinated across the country.

Early this month, the World Health Organization said the Philippines’ supply of vaccines from the COVAX facility may be at risk if the country fails to follow prioritization requirements. (COVAX is a WHO-initiative that ensures the people across the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines once available, regardless of their wealth.)

Banner image by Michael Varcas/The Philippine STAR