MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said 961 local government units (LGUs) have so far submitted a master list of recipients of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines based on the government’s priority listing.
DILG Undersecretary and officer-in-charge Bernardo Florece Jr. told President Rodrigo Duterte in a televised briefing Wednesday night that they already directed the LGUs to prepare some activities ahead of the arrival of the vaccines in their respective areas.
Aside from this, Florece said 939 LGUs have submitted a communication plan that includes an information campaign on the government’s vaccination drive.
In the approved Covid-19 vaccination priority list by the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the Department of Health-Technical Advisory Group, the inoculation must be done in the following order:
A1: Front-line workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, and members of the barangay emergency response team;
A2: Senior citizens aged 60 years old and above;
A3: Persons with comorbidities not otherwise included in the preceding categories;
A4: Essential front-line personnel including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the Inter-Agency Task Force as essential during Enhanced Community Quarantine;
A5: Indigent population not otherwise included in the preceding categories.
“So as far as the master listing of health human resources, the doctors, nurses, midwives, they have already been completed. We have 961 LGUs that have their respective master lists. Then we followed the master list of the senior citizens and then the indigents and informal settlers, as per your order, Mr. President,” Florence said.
Florece also reported that the 748 LGUs have prepared 1,543 cold-chain storage facilities while 898 LGUs have complied with logistical preparations such as converting buses and other transport resources to vaccination sites.
“We also require them to convert their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from Covid-19 EOC to a vaccine EOC and last, the mobilization on the preparation of our barangay personnel which will assist our barangay officials, especially the barangay tanods (village watchmen) and then the BHERTs or the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams, so 893 LGUs have already complied with this measure,” he said.
Meanwhile, Florece said the DILG is awaiting the response of local chief executives who were asked to explain their inoculation ahead of front-liners.
“In the meantime, we hereby advise all governors, mayors, and other local government officials to refrain from getting inoculated ahead of the medical front-liners and strictly follow the prioritization list approved by the DOH. The intent of the national government is that all our medical front-liners must be vaccinated first because we need to protect our health care system first and foremost,” he said.
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III warned that the Philippines might lose Covid-19 vaccines that it is expected to receive through the WHO-led Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility if such incidents will happen again.
“I won’t make conclusions for now. Let’s wait for the official response. But one thing is clear, we will follow the priority listing of the World Health Organization (WHO) because the vaccines, especially those from AstraZeneca are from the COVAX facility and were given to use for free,” he said in a radio interview.
Mayors who received show cause orders from the DILG over the incident were Alfred Romualdez of Tacloban City, Leyte; Dibu Tuan of T’boli, South Cotabato; Sulpicio Villalobos of Sto. Niño town, South Cotabato; Noel Rosal of Legazpi City, Albay and Abraham Ibba of Bataraza, Palawan.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced Monday that local officials have been reclassified as “essential workers” and are now fourth in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccines.
Roque said official local government units (LGUs) are now part of the “A4” priority with other front-line personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel.
There are currently 1,634 provincial governors and city and municipal mayors and 42,046 village chairpersons throughout the country. (PNA)