Vax for athletes: PH lags behind in Southeast Asia

The Philippines lags behind its Southeast Asian neighbors in the vaccination program for athletes, even as local sports officials have renewed their call for inclusion of the national players in the government’s priority list.

Vax for athletes: PH lags behind in Southeast Asia
A Cambodian athlete is inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine during the country’s vaccination program for national athletes and sports officials. Photo courtesy of Cambodia SEA Games 2023 Facebook page
“I hope that officials can act on this immediately because we would like our athletes to have peace of mind as they train at home and in their respective training areas (under their National Sports Associations),” said Philippine Sports Commissioner Ramon Fernandez.

The former Philippine basketball superstar-turned sports official has already proposed to the joint task force of the PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee that national athletes should be inoculated first before starting their bubble training for the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games set in November-December.

“It’s the most ideal. We all want them (athletes) to be safe and healthy first,” added Fernandez, who is also the Chef the Mission for the 2021 Vietnam SEA Games, in the wake of rising cases of COVID-19 that reportedly infected several athletes fr  om athletics and canoe-kayak.

Southeast Asian countries Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore have already started their vaccination program for national athletes. Malaysia has also put the athletes in the priority list.

Supervised by its national police, Cambodia has already inoculated its athletes last month.

According to the official page of the Cambodia SEA Games 2023, the vaccination program covered more than a thousand members of the sports community, including athletes, coaches and officials, staff and performers, who are part of the working committee for the country’s hosting of the 2023 SEA Games.

Vietnam had already given COVID-19 jabs to their athletics’ coaches athletes, wrestlers, taekwondo and judo, plus members of their fencing, boxing, swimming, gymnastics and weightlifting teams that will compete for Olympic slots in the coming months.

Singapore has also started vaccinating its athletes, especially the shooters, shuttlers, paddlers, who are bidding for Olympic slots. also reported that the names of 4,000 athletes and officials have already been accepted by the COVID-19 Immunization Program Ministry as priorities for vaccination.

Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez, POC president Bambol Tolentino, Sen. Bong Go and Deputy Speaker Rep. Mikee Romero have already made their appeal to include the athletes in the priority list for vaccines.

Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, has appealed to vaccine chief Carlito Galvez, while Romero has also filed a resolution on January 26 that will allow national athletes to be prioritized for the vaccination.

So far, the Filipino athletes are not yet included in ranking of priorities.

Meanwhile, local government units are almost done with the A1 priorities—hospital and health workers —and some are done with the second priority—senior citizens and those who have comorbidity.

Up next is the A4 list that includes other frontliners in the education, transport, media, security, religious, and government sectors.

National athletes are not in any list, meaning they will be vaccinated last.

Topics: Philippines , lags , vaccination program , National Sports Associations , Ramon Fernandez
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