Violation of priority list could mean a halt in COVAX vaccine supply, DoH warns

Violation of priority list could mean a halt in COVAX vaccine supply, DoH warns

File photo of vaccines being shipped to countries with the first allocation from the COVAX Facility in Geneva, Switzerland.

By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access or COVAX has earlier warned the Philippine government to follow the priority list for vaccination or else risk a halt in vaccine supplies and in reaction, the Department of Health (DoH) is now looking into reports of non-healthcare workers being inoculated ahead of medical front-liners.

The health department disclosed that the vaccine supply from the COVAX facility may be jeopardized if the prioritization framework on vaccination is not followed.

The United Nation’s vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tool (ACT) Accelerator is co-led by the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Involving a risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of medicines, COVAX is by far the largest, most rapid and complex global roll-out if vaccines in human history, enabling access to safe Covid-19 vaccines for countries, regardless of income level.

But COVAX also has issued a priority list for those who will first among those to be inoculated and since the vaccines from the facility will be donated, it can call the shot as to which country will also be given priority for the vaccine supply.

“Not doing such will risk us not receiving future supplies not only from the COVAX facility but even in our other engagements that it is all part of those agreements that we have to follow the National Vaccine Deployment Plan and this is really because there is a global supply shortage,” the local health department’s Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control director Dr. Nikka Hao pointed out.

This concern was raised after a video of Tacloban City mayor Alfred Romualdez receiving a Covid-19 vaccine shot surfaced on social media. This was posted on the Tacloban City Information Office page that the mayor’s inoculation was intended to boost vaccine confidence among his constituents.

According to the DoH, healthcare workers and their families are included in the prioritization framework of the national vaccination program but it added that hospital management must be held liable if individuals other than healthcare workers will be vaccinated out of schedule.

“Well they are made accountable for lapses with the prioritization frameworks,” Dr. Hao said as he expressed the belief that such a violation of the priority list would be met with an appropriate investigation.

“We also give out these reports to the WHO and to our different agencies and to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) for their information. There are monitoring processes in place and their rare investigations also on those that we have received. We really all should play our role in making sure na nasusunod po ang ating prioritization framework,” she added.

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