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Malacañang Palace urged more frontline healthcare workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19, reminding them that the best vaccine is the vaccine that is available, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this call after World Health Organization’s (WHO) country representative to the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe said the Philippines has fallen short of vaccinating healthcare workers with only 63 percent of them getting jabs so far.

Despite being first in line on the government’s vaccine priority list, Roque said many medical workers refused to get vaccinated as they are still waiting for their preferred Covid-19 vaccine brand.

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“I think as a general conclusion, lahat po ng medical front-liners na gustong magpabakuna, mabibigyan po ng bakuna. Pero marami talaga sa kanila ang nag-aantay ng kanilang favored brand at hindi naman natin po sila mapipilit (all medical front-liners who want to get vaccinated, will be vaccinated. But there are many of them who are still waiting for their favored brand so we can’t force them),” he said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.

He said the government continues to give healthcare workers the option of getting inoculated with the vaccine brands currently available.

“Sa amin po, walang tigil ang aming pagmumungkahi sa mga (For us, we will not stop in suggesting) health professionals that the best vaccine is the vaccine that is available,” he added.

Meanwhile, Roque assured that he will coordinate with the Department of Health (DOH) over reports that some medical workers have yet to receive their salaries.

“Ipagbigay alam niyo lang po sakin kasi we will follow up with the DOH kasi hindi dapat nangyayari ‘to (Let me know about it so we can follow up with the DOH because that should not happen),” he said.

In a recent Laging Handa briefing, Abeyasinghe emphasized the need to ensure the protection of healthcare workers before moving on to other priority groups.

“We are still short of protecting all frontline health care workers, and the current surge demonstrates that medical workers have to be fully protected so that they can work to care for the sick,” he said.

He acknowledged the lack of Covid-19 vaccine supply for low and middle-income countries and appealed to wealthier nations to share their vaccines.

The government will need 3.4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for 1.7 million healthcare workers in the country.

To date, the Philippines has over 3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Of this number, 2.5 million doses are from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. while the rest are British-Swede firm’s AstraZeneca.

Data from the DOH showed that since the vaccination rollout on March 1, over 1 million Filipinos have received at least their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Around 1.4 million vaccine doses had been administered as of April 17, making the Philippines third in Southeast Asia in terms of number of doses given.

As of Monday, the Philippines has 141,375 active Covid-19 cases, 788,322 recoveries, and 16,048 deaths. 


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