By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian urged the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to move teachers up in the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccination program.
In a statement, Gatchalian said that he supports a similar call from at least 33 education, business, and medical groups who signed a position paper calling on the government to move teachers from B1 to the A4 priority list.
The A4 priority list includes frontline personnel in essential sectors. The category also includes uniformed personnel and those belonging to other essential sectors.
Under the current prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan, teachers have been placed in the B1 priority list together with social workers.
In the said plan, teachers can receive their jabs after frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens, persons with comorbidities, indigent population, and those in the A4 list have been vaccinated.
Gatchalian stressed that teachers are also front-liners, risking their health and safety to ensure learning continuity for more than 26 million learners in the basic education sector.
He added that inoculating teachers as quickly as possible would hasten the safe reopening of schools and curb adult-to-adult transmission of the virus when face-to-face classes resume.
The lawmaker also cited the example of Indonesia, which inoculated teachers ahead of vulnerable groups.
“Ang ating mga guro ay maituturing nating mga frontliners dahil isinasakripisyo nila ang kanilang kaligtasan para magpatuloy ang edukasyon sa gitna ng pandemya. Ngayong inaasahan natin ang malawakang pagpapabakuna kontra COVID-19 sa mga susunod na buwan, isinusulong nating mabigyan ng mas mataas na prayoridad ang mga guro upang matiyak natin ang ligtas na pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon at muling pagbubukas ng mga paaralan,” said Gatchalian.
Last year, international bodies like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) called on governments to prioritize teachers in the COVID-19 vaccination program. (AI/MTVN)