The highest-ranking officer of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Bohol is in favor of the national IATF’s (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) approval to bump up local government unit (LGU) officials in the COVID-19 vaccination priority list.
DILG Bohol director Jerome Gonzales said that elected LGU officials deserve to be prioritized as they may also be considered as front-line workers.
“Mas maayo nuon ni kay, whether we like it or not, they are frontliners kung tan-awon nato ang nature sa ilang trabaho,” said DILG Bohol director Jerome Gonzales.
Last week, the DILG confirmed that governors, mayors, and barangay captains have been moved up in the priority list for the government’s mass COVID-19 inoculation from B3 to A4 as the IATF approved the department’s recommendation.
“Sila po ay considered nang A4. Noong Huwebes po ako mismo ang nagrekomenda sa IATF through the Recovery Cluster sa IATF na i-angat sila from B3 to A4,” DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said.
“All 1,715 governors and mayors, and 42,046 barangay captains, inaprubahan po natin na iangat po ang kanilang classification (we approved to elevate their classification),” he added.
In the original vaccination priority list of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG), a group of health experts advising the IATF, the following were the identified classifications listed in chronological order, starting from who gets inoculated first:
- A1: Frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc.
- A2: Senior citizens aged 60 years old and above
- A3: Persons with comorbidities not otherwise included in the preceding categories
- A4: Frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ
- A5: Indigent populations not otherwise included in the preceding categories
- B1: Teachers, social workers
- B2: Other government workers
- B3: Other essential workers
- B4: Socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigent people
- B5: Overseas Filipino Workers
- B6: Other remaining workforce
- C: Rest of the Filipino population not otherwise included in the above groups
Gonzales however noted that he has not yet received an order from the DILG head office formalizing the restructuring of the priority list.
Earlier, nine mayors in the country including three from Bohol, Mayors Arturo Piollo of Lila, Virgilio Mendez of San Miguel and Victoriano Torres III of Alicia, were named by President Rodrigo Duterte as chief executives who jumped the COVID-19 priority line while the government was still carrying out the inoculation of health workers.
Duterte however said that there is a “gray area” when it comes to government leaders who get vaccinated first to allay fears from the public.
No penalties were meted out against the local chief executives but were asked by Duterte to explain why they got vaccinated ahead of their official turn.
Both Piollo and Mendez, who got injected with the Sinovac and AstraZeneca jabs, respectively, explained that they decided to receive the vaccine to encourage others to get inoculated as well.
Meanwhile, Bohol IATF spokesperson Dr. Yul Lopez has announced that the province was already nearing the completion of the vaccination for health workers and that inoculation of the elderly will start “soon.” (A. Doydora)