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Duterte sees ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as more COVID-19 jabs arrive

Duterte sees 'light at the end of the tunnel' as more COVID-19 jabs arrive

MANILA, Philippines — The "light at the end of the tunnel" is in sight because of the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday, as the government kicked off the inoculation of the country's more than 12-million workers in essential sectors.

In a pre-recorded video message during the vaccination roll-out for economic frontliners, Duterte said the arrival of the pandemic shots is the result of the national government’s "aggressive efforts" to secure enough doses from different manufacturers.

He also described the start of the vaccination of workers in essential sectors or the A4 group as "a major milestone in our battle against COVID-19."

"We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel as the vaccine shipments have arrived, have started to arrive in (bulk)," Duterte said.

"With the start of our mass vaccination, the A4 priority category workers in both public and private sector will have an added layer of protection against the disease," he added.

While the government's vaccination program is underway, Duterte reminded the public to continue observing minimum health standards to prevent the further spread of the virus.

"Let us keep in mind that vaccination is the only way forward for us to overcome this pandemic. But we must also remember that getting vaccinated is not the only solution," the president said.

"We must continue to observe minimum public health standards by wearing a mask, washing our hands, and observing social distancing," he added.

The A4 group is composed of workers in the public, private, and informal sectors, including the self-employed and those working in private residences.

Some 50 workers belonging to various sectors were vaccinated at the SM Mall of Asia on Monday, marking the beginning of the inoculation of workers in the formal and informal sectors.

The workers who were vaccinated during Monday's event are business process outsourcing employees, travel guides, tricycle drivers, household staff, mall personnel, representatives from the entertainment sector, drivers, teachers, government workers, fast food crew workers, riders and media workers.

'Start of recovery'


"This occasion marks the start of the recovery of the Philippines because we will be vaccinating our A4 workforce. Because of this, we can say that the vaccination of the A4 is a game changer against COVID-19," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

The government expects the arrival of about 10 million doses of COVID-19 jabs this month, including 5.5 million doses of shots from Chinese from Sinovac.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said some 4.2 million doses of vaccines from the COVAX facility are also expected to be delivered by the end of the month. As much as 40 million doses of pandemic jabs are scheduled to arrive by August.

Officials said the government is studying what benefits and privileges can be extended to fully vaccinated persons. Galvez noted that in Israel, some mobility restrictions have been eased for fully vaccinated individuals. He said some local governments are also providing aid and are organizing raffles to convince people to avail of the COVID-19 jabs.

"In order to motivate our seniors and also our people with comorbidities, we need to provide some leeway," the vaccine czar said.

"We are considering na bigyan ng some sort of opening of restrictions to those people that will be vaccinated especially our quarantine protocols when they return from abroad," he added.

Galvez said some experts from Israel would be coming on June 20 to discuss ways to implement the benefits for people who got inoculated against COVID-19.

Trade Secretary Ramono Lopez said some establishments are offering freebies and discounts to persons who got vaccinated.

"But the real benefit of vaccination is you won't die (of COVID-19). That is the safest and the best benefit," Lopez said.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 7, 2021 – 10:21am

The national government has so far secured two official deals for COVID-19 vaccine supplies in the Philippines, one with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac and another with the Serum Institute of India.

Watch this space for bite-sized developments on the vaccines in the Philippines. (Main image by Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

June 7, 2021 – 10:21am

The government marks the rollout of vaccines for the A4, or economic frontliners, category with a ceremony at a mall in Pasay City.

Around 35 million Filipinos are in the priority group, which has been expanded to include all who are required to physically report to work.

Pandemic restrictions have seen some Filipinos shift to remote work or work-from-home arrangements but many employees, especially those in the service sector, do not have that option.

May 19, 2021 – 2:21pm

Vice President Leni Robredo has been vaccinated against COVID-19 at a vaccination center in Quezon City.

Robredo, who received her first dose of the AstraZeneca jab, is in the A3 ( people with comorbidities) category.

May 7, 2021 – 6:46pm

The Department of Health announces the resumption of the use of AstraZeneca jab for all eligible population following the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration and the DOH All Experts Group on Vaccines.

The health department urges the public to get their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

"The benefits of additional protection against COVID-19 could only be achieved by completing both doses of the vaccine," the DOH says in a statement.

May 7, 2021 – 10:53am

The regional health minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said there is no basis for insinuations that COVID-19 vaccines are forbidden in Islam.

Medical workers from the Integrated Provincial Health Office-Maguindanao gave Bangsamoro Health Minister Bashary Latiph a Sinovac anti-coronavirus jab Thursday.

Latiph reiterated his appeal to residents in all cities and provinces in BARMM to ignore fallacies and assertions on Facebook by skeptics and pessimists who are not even medical practitioners that vaccines can do more harm than good.

“Listen only to BARMM’s Health Ministry, to the Department of Health and to health workers in provinces and in cities in the Bangsamoro region,” Latiph told reporters after he got an anti-COVID-19 shot. — The STAR/John Unson

May 5, 2021 – 9:51am

The Philippines approves the application of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Food and Drug Administration Director general Eric Domingo says it only took nine days to review the emergency use authority application.

"The known and potential benefits of Moderna, when used to prevent COVID-19, outweigh the known and potential risks of the said vaccine," Domingo says during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

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