LEGAZPI CITY: In an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the Philippines, the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) and League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) asked President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize the vaccination of the A4 category, the country's economic frontliners.

In a letter sent to the President by Quirino Gov. Dakila Carlo Cua, ULAP national president and LPP national chairman, on Thursday, he said both the union and the league strongly support the vaccination rollout set by the National Immunity Technical Advisory Group (Nitag) for Covid-19 vaccines prioritizing the A1 to A3 categories.

"I am pleased to express our gratitude to the President for the rollout of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Deployment Program and the aggressive localized advocacy under the Resbakuna campaign. I affirm our unwavering commitment to the strategic national-local government partnership amidst the pandemic," the ULAP President said in his letter to the President.

"Mr. President, I fully support the Philippine government's goal to inoculate a significant majority of our population and I am humbled by the considerable headway toward attaining the target population protection level," Cua said.

However, the current implementation of the Nitag vaccination program limits the group of people to be vaccinated by the LGUs to categories A1 to A4 in NCR plus eight provinces and in areas with a surge of Covid-19 cases and to Categories A1 to A3 for the rest of the country, he added.

Cua said the implementation of the vaccination prioritization criteria set by Nitag for Covid-19 vaccines, wherein the allocation is made consistent with the policy of providing access to those who will benefit the most from the vaccine due to co-morbidity or vulnerability, is laudable as the vaccine confidence among the local constituencies builds up.

"But the current system of strictly adhering to the Nitag criteria sets back the timeline for herd immunity and increases the incidence of transmission of the more virulent Covid-19 variants among those who have been waiting to be vaccinated but are not yet considered as priority, especially the economic frontliners," he said.

Admittedly, the prioritization of the selected population to reduce morbidity and mortality and protect those who bear significant additional risks should be maintained, he said.

"It is in this regard, that I would like to respectfully request, Mr. President, that LGUs be allowed to extend vaccines to our constituents without need of being limited by the implementation of the Nitag prioritization scheme, wherein Nitag determines which groups should be vaccinated for the time being. This proposal is in order to hasten the inoculation of the rest of the general population," Cua said.

The ULAP and LPP national president said that while the LGUs maintain the special lane for the priority populations, he asked Duterte to allow the LGUs to proceed with the vaccination of economic frontliners and the rest of the population to speed up the vaccination across the country.

"LGUs may maintain a special lane for the priority population, but in order to reach as many persons as possible, in the shortest possible time, please allow the LGUs to proceed with the vaccination of categories A4 and A5 and if possible, the rest of the population," Cua said.

Cua also appealed to the President to allow the plan of the government to make the vaccine commercially available in the country, just like in other countries so that those who can afford to purchase the vaccine could have a leeway to beef up the vaccination scheme in the country.

"Allow me also, Mr. President, to express my strong support to the plan of the government to make the vaccines commercially available, just like in other countries, to enhance accessibility to those who can afford to pay for their own use and perhaps this will pave the way for the possible provision of booster shots for our citizens," Cua said.