The city government will prioritize health care personnel and essential frontliners, including members of the armed forces and the Philippine National Police, to receive the COVID-19 vaccines that it plans to purchase under its “CoVac” program unveiled this week.
The elderly, including individuals with pre-existing health conditions, as well as children trails behind in the middle of the list.
City administrator Arnel Pedrosa clarified, however, that the list is still to change and “without prejudice to future recommendations”. He described it as being based on the objective of undertaking “proactive and protective measures to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus”.
The initial ranking developed by the city government identified the priority recipients of the vaccine in the following order: health care personnel and essential frontliners including firefighters; police and military officers; personnel from Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP); food and agriculture workers; logistics and supply chain workers, including courier service workers from private and public postal services; other essential workers from public and private market and groceries, financial services, public transport, and education sector.
At the bottom of the list are the city officials and employees, barangay officials, and other local employees.
City Mayor Lucilo Bayron had earlier disclosed plans to put up a P500 million shopping list for COVID-19 vaccines based on an objective of inoculating 70 percent of Puerto Princesa’s population, the accepted ratio necessary for a community to achieve “herd immunity” from the virus.
Puerto Princesa City was so far among the several local government units that have unveiled concrete plans to purchase vaccine supplies independent of the efforts of the national government and had set aside one of the highest budget relative to the anticipated prices of the vaccines being rolled out.
Pedrosa, however, clarified that the city’s vaccination plans are subject to the policies and regulations that will be issued by the national government. He was reacting to a pronouncement made Tuesday by DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire who urged local government units to coordinate with national authorities on their vaccination plans.
“We will follow the national policy, except if it will put at risk the health of our residents or will be disadvantageous to the welfare of the residents of the city,” Pedrosa said.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also said that orders for vaccines could not be done independently from negotiations being made with the pharmaceutical firms by the inter-agency task force (IATF) and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
Asked to comment on the observation that the initial estimate may have been “over budgeted”, a senior official told Palawan News the funds would also cover training (around P1,200 for one vaccinator per 350 people), other medical supplies such as masks, face shields, and personal protective equipment (estimated at around P1,924 for a two-round dose) and shipment fees which would include cold storage equipment and facilities.