Philippines to prioritize elderly, vulnerable sector once COVID-19 vaccine is available

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2020 01:25 PM

People fall in line to buy goods at a public market in Mandaluyong on April 14, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- The Philippine government said it will prioritize the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions for COVID-19 immunization, once the vaccine becomes available. 

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the government has prepared an immunization plan for COVID-19, as the race to find a vaccine for the respiratory disease continues.

"Mayroon na po talaga tayong in place na vaccination plan kasi alam mo sanay naman na tayo na magbigay ng bakuna sa ating mga kababayan," Roque said in an interview with GMA-7.

(We already have a vaccination plan because we are used to immunizing our countrymen.)

"Siguro ang uunahin particularly vulnerable. Alam po natin kung sino iyong mga vulnerable, ang mga matatanda pati po iyong mayroong tinatawag na comorbidity," he added.

(We will prioritize the vulnerable. We know who they are---the elderly and those with comorbidity.)

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he is hoping that a COVID-19 vaccine is ready by January 2021.

"Kailangan may pera ako niyan kasi bili kaagad tayo," he said in a briefing.

(We need money for that because we have to buy immediately.)

Duterte added in jest, "So kung gano'n, huwag ka sanang mamatay hanggang January. Hintayin mo 'yong vaccine. 'Pag tinawag ka ng kamatayan, sasabihin mo, p***** *** ka, umalis ka diyan. May hinihintay ako na vaccine. Hindi ko pa panahon mamatay."

The President said scientists around the world are working at breakneck speed to develop a cure against the illness, caused by the novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.

Once a vaccine is available, Roque said the government would shoulder the costs for those who cannot pay for it. Filipinos who are able to pay meanwhile should pay, he added.

Roque, a former lawmaker who authored the Universal Healthcare Law, also floated the possibility that immunization can be covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.