Vaccination key to recovery — Diokno

The government’s COVID-19 vaccination program is currently for top three priority groups — healthcare workers, senior citizens, and individuals with comorbidities. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

MASS VACCINATION will be key to the Philippines’ economic recovery, which is seen by 2022, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin E. Diokno.

“Inaasahan namin na makakabawi din tayo, siguro sometime in 2022, makakabalik tayo doon sa where we were before, in 2019 at ’yun naman ay nakabase rin sa kung gaano kabilis natin madedeploy ’yung vaccination (We expect that we can bounce back maybe sometime in 2022, we can go back to where we were before, in 2019 and that is based on how fast we can deploy our vaccination),” Mr. Diokno told a televised news briefing on Monday.

Mr. Diokno said the government should prioritize creating jobs. He noted that results of the BSP’s recent Business Expectations Survey showed companies were optimistic and were eyeing to expand hiring in the next few months.

Economic managers expect the economy to grow by 6.5% to 7.5% this year but have warned that the two-week strict lockdown in Metro Manila and nearby provinces could cut gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.8 percentage point.

The government is trying to boost up its vaccination program amid a sustained rise in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections.

Data from the Department of Health showed 922,898 doses have been given as of April 6. The vaccination drive started in March, with the government aiming to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos by December.

Meanwhile, the vaccination of more workers, especially those considered as essential economic frontliners, might start in May in a “best-case scenario,” the National Economic and Development Authority said on Monday.

“We’re looking at, again, hindi pa kasi ganon ka-definite ’yung pagdating ng supply of the vaccine, but I think the best-case scenario is we can start in May,” NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said at an online briefing.

Pero it can actually slide to mga June and I think, of course, there’s that first and second dose, it can be June, July, August,” she added.

Ms. Edillon said the A4 subgroup next in line for vaccination are workers that have “high levels of interaction with or exposure to the public.”

The subgroup includes:

A4.1: Commuter transport (land, air, and sea), including logistics;

A4.2: Frontline government workers in justice, security, transport and social protection sectors;

A4.3: Public and private wet and dry market vendors; frontline workers in grocery, supermarkets; delivery services;

A4.4: Workers in manufacturing for food, beverage, medical and pharmaceutical products;

A4.5: Frontline workers in food retail, including food service delivery;

A4.6: Frontline government workers;

A4.7: Frontline workers in financial services;

A4.8: Teaching and related personnel in medical and allied medical courses of higher education institutions, including personnel handling laboratories;

A4.9: Frontline workers in hotels and accommodation;

A4.10: Priests, pastors, religious leaders regardless of denomination;

A4.11: Construction workers in government infrastructure projects;

A4.12: Security guards/personnel assigned in the establishments, offices, agencies, and organizations; and

A4.13: Overseas Filipino workers not classified above, and scheduled for deployment within two months.

Ms. Edillon said establishments, agencies, and organizations must issue a certificate of A4 eligibility to their workers who belong to the group, which should be signed by either the owner, highest ranking personnel of the agency or organization, or head of human resources.

These groups should adopt a “schedule system” for workers, considering the possible adverse reactions they may experience. They were also encouraged to provide logistical support to facilitate the vaccination of their workers and coordinate with local government units, she said.

Vaccination is available for the top three priority groups — healthcare workers, senior citizens and people with comorbidities.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire at the same briefing called on businesses whose workers fall under the A4 prioritization to prepare a masterlist of those who will be vaccinated.

Bigyan niyo na po sila ng nire-require ng NEDA na certificate para lang po pag dumating ’yung panahon na mag-uumpisa na, hindi na po ito magiging cause ng delay ng pagbabakuna,” she said. — Luz Wendy T. Noble and Vann Marlo M. Villegas