THE government aims to inoculate at least 22 million workers in the A4 priority subgroup, or frontline economic workers, beginning with those in the National Capital Region and eight provinces.
The inoculation of A4 members started on Monday with a ceremonial inoculation at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
To be vaccinated first are the 12 million A4 members in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Pampanga, Rizal, Metro Cebu and Davao City.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd said the vaccination of the A4 group will be the key in bringing back normalcy to the country and reenergizing the economy.
World Health Organization Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe welcomed the vaccination of economic frontliners but stressed that the government should continue to prioritize those who are most at risk from the disease.
"We welcome any attempt to [expand] the vaccine coverage and we recognize the critical importance of vaccinating frontline workers as a key measure for economic revival... It is important that we use the vaccines to maximize the benefit of the vaccines in reducing the cases and the deaths while recognizing the need to bring back economic activity," Abeyasinghe said.
According to the Department of Health memorandum issued on May 31, where vaccines are in limited supply, local government units and companies can prioritize those aged 40 to 59, followed by those aged 18 to 39.
The memorandum was based on a resolution made by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases but Duque said this is a "permissive resolution," which allows prioritization by age.
Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire added that the age stratification will allow a more rational distribution of vaccines in the private sector.
Vergeire said the Health department will evaluate in July if it is possible to begin vaccinating priority groups B and C once vaccine supplies stabilize.
As of June 6, 5.966 million doses have been administered in the country with 1.544 million people fully vaccinated.