TACLOBAN CITY—Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez said he was ready to face the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) following his decision to get injected with coronavirus vaccine ahead of the city’s frontline workers.
“If I have violated any guidelines, I am willing to face the consequences,” said Romualdez, 58.
“I am only for the protection of our people. I have said it before that I am willing to be vaccinated first just to encourage our people to have themselves vaccinated,” he added.
On Monday (March 22), Romualdez was injected with CoronaVac, the vaccine made by Chinese company Sinovac, but it didn’t sit well with the DILG.
Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said the department was preparing an order asking Romualdez to explain his getting the vaccine ahead of health workers, who are on top of the national government’s priority list for vaccination.
Densing said the vaccines received by Tacloban were meant for its health care workers although as a mayor, Romualdez was among the priority recipients.
Romualdez said he had himself vaccinated to ease people’s doubts, including that of health workers since only 50 percent of them were willing to get vaccinated.
He said he didn’t even hide his vaccination from the public to help encourage people to get vaccinated, too.
Romualdez cited the case of Gloria Fabrigas, city health officer, who earlier refused to be vaccinated for “health reasons.”
But after Fabrigas witnessed the mayor getting injected, she had a change of heart and had herself vaccinated, too, on Monday.
City Administrator Aldrin Quebec said the vaccine used on the mayor was just “excess” of the vaccines administered to health workers in the city.
The city planned to vaccinate at least 1,000 health workers and frontline workers using CoronaVac and AstraZeneca vaccines. The city received 3,164 doses of each vaccine brand.
Quebec, however, could not say if all the health workers on the priority list had been injected since no data were available yet.
But he said that the mayor had legal cover for his injection, Resolution No. 14 of the technical immunization advisory group on COVID-19 which allows a city mayor to receive donated vaccine intended for health workers if there was an excess.
Romualdez also sought to dispel allegations that he was given special treatment because he was injected ahead of some city health workers.
“What VIP treatment? Sinovac? VIP treatment?” he said, reiterating that he just wanted to serve as an example and encourage people to get vaccinated.
He said that as a mayor, he should also be considered as a frontline worker and deserved to be injected.
Romualdez had been on quarantine when President Rodrigo Duterte visited the city last March 18 since the mayor was one of the close contacts of Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who had tested positive for coronavirus.
Last December, the city mayor admitted that he had been infected, too.
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