Go stresses importance of OFW inclusion in vax program

Go stresses importance of OFW inclusion in vax program

MANILA – The national government must formulate detailed guidelines of the vaccination rollout, which is expected to reach the A4 (frontline personnel in essential sectors) priority category in the coming months.

Go said in a news release on Sunday that as the country expects more vaccines, the government should also prepare for procedures on how to vaccinate a bigger chunk of the population.

He said seafarers and other overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who may be required by their foreign employers to be vaccinated, and must depart soon must be in the A4 group.

Overseas workers due to be deployed within two months are included under A4.12.

Go, also the chair of the Committee on Health, emphasized that the government must ensure overseas-bound workers are able to resume their work.

“Nais nating mabakunahan na ang sektor na ito para po maibalik na ang kabuhayan nila at makatulong sa ekonomiya. May mga pamilya po silang binubuhay. Tulungan natin sila para mas makatulong rin sila sa komunidad nila (We want the overseas workers sector to be vaccinated soon so they can regain their livelihoods. They have families to feed and can also help the community),” Go said.

The current vaccination of the A1 to A3 priority groups is just the first step and the processes may become more complex as the rollout reaches other sectors, Go said.

“Natutuwa po tayo na patuloy ang pagbabakuna ng priority sectors sa ating bansa. Inuuna lang po natin ang health workers, senior citizens, at ‘yung may comorbidities. Pagkatapos nito ay babakunahan na natin ang essential sectors hanggang makarating sa indigents at iba pang miyembro ng lipunan (It is good to note that vaccination of priority sectors is ongoing. We are prioritizing health workers, senior citizens, and those with comorbidities. Then we will proceed to other essential sectors until we reach the indigents and other sectors of society),” Go said.

Passport

Since certain countries where seafarers are bound have preferences in terms of vaccines, Go further suggested that seafarers and other OFWs be prioritized once doses from Western countries, like Pfizer and Moderna, arrive.

Also noting that members of the sector cross international borders all the time and may need to provide proofs of vaccination, he asked the government to provide acceptable documents.

He warned that vaccine passports must not be a reason for complacency as health experts said vaccines can only lower, not eliminate, the risks of Covid-19 infection.

“Kailangan may maipakita ang mga tao na katibayan na nabakunahan na sila, lalo na kung requirement ito sa ibang bansa at sa lugar ng kanilang pagtatrabahuhan. Pero hindi dapat ito gamiting rason para maging kampante. Mag-ingat pa rin tayo dahil nakakahawa pa rin ang Covid-19 (Let us study the issuance of vaccine passports as overseas workers may need to present them in their destinations. But they should not be complacent just because they have the passports. They should still be careful),” he said.

DOH mandate

Under Section 12 of Republic Act 11525, or the Covid-19 Vaccination Program, the Department of Health (DOH) is tasked to issue vaccine cards.

To expedite the process, the DOH may delegate the processing and issuance of vaccine cards to local government units and private entities, subject to guidelines.

Recently, Go successfully raised the appeals of certain essential sectors to be part of the vaccine priority list without prejudice to already identified priority groups, especially medical frontliners who remain top priority.

Among the sectors that have been included in the A4 category through Go’s recommendation are frontline news media workers, airport personnel, seafarers, and OFWs needed to be deployed abroad immediately. (PR)