- US vax surplus for PH, other allies
- More sectors added to A1 priority
The United States government will distribute among its allies, including the Philippines, its surplus of Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses, Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez said on Friday.
"It's free, it's part of the help they are giving to their allies," Romualdez said in a radio interview.
Romualdez said the number of doses that will be shared to the Philippines will be determined in the coming days.
The ambassador made the disclosure after he was informed by the White House that the Philippines will be among the first batch of recipients of US surplus vaccines.
Romualdez said the shipment may arrive as early as June.
Palace: no preferential treatment
Malacañang on Friday denied accusations that the government is giving preferential treatment in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
It offered this assurance after President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, Davao City, was picked as one of the first recipients of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines developed by the United States’ Pfizer BioNTech.
Apart from Davao City, Metro Manila and Metro Cebu will receive the first Pfizer vaccine doses.
During a Laging Handa press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque explained that Pfizer vaccines would be delivered to Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao because they have ultra-cold storage facilities which can store the vaccine jabs.
“There is no preferential treatment there. It’s a reality that Pfizer was really made for first world conditions,” Roque said.
A1 group expanded again
Immediate family members of medical front-liners and overseas Filipino workers who are scheduled for deployment within the next four months are now under the A1 priority group for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination, Malacañang said on Friday.
This developed after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) adopted Thursday the recommendation of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 to refine the A4 vaccination group, Roque said.
“The IATF likewise re-categorized Priority Group A1 outbound overseas Filipino workers for deployment within the next four months from the intended date of vaccination,” he added.
Hotel workers get vaccines
About 2,507 employees working in quarantine hotels nationwide have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus after the National Task Force (NTF) decided to include frontline tourism workers in accommodation establishments in the A1 category.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said having these workers vaccinated will allow them an opportunity to recoup lost livelihood and help restart the sector’s recovery.
"Most of our tourism workers were reporting for work even at the onset of the pandemic while most of the cities and municipalities were still under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). It is high time that we protect our tourism frontliners knowing that they are risking their lives each time they show up in the designated quarantine and isolation hotels. This move shows the government's commitment to protect them. Not only will this decision help ensure the survival of the tourism industry; this will also hasten the country’s economic recovery," Puyat said.
Mix, match could bring adverse effects
Mixing and matching different COVID-19 vaccine brands for one person may produce mild to moderate adverse events, a vaccine health expert said on Friday.
Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the Philippines' vaccine expert panel, said during an online forum, that a study from the United Kingdom – involving 830 adult volunteers – showed that those jabbed with AstraZeneca for their first dose and Pfizer for their second dose tend to develop more adverse effects.
“Not serious, but mild to moderate like headaches and muscle pain were reported more frequently when different vaccine doses were combined," Gloriani said.
"But these were short-lived and there were no other safety concerns," she said.
A separate study from Spain showed that mixing 2 COVID-19 vaccine brands in one person is "found to be safe," Gloriani said.