SENATOR and chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go earlier welcomed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to include frontline news media workers in the updated list of sectors under Priority Group A4 of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Program.
The senator had previously appealed to the government to include members of the media in the COVID-19 priority list without prejudice to other sectors already identified as priorities.
In an interview given on Saturday, April 17, Go pointed out the significant role played by the media in disseminating information about the pandemic to the public. He pointed out that media workers, especially field reporters, put their health and safety at risk in order to keep Filipinos informed about the country’s current situation.
“Ang importante naman rito ngayon, kung ano ‘yung available na bakuna na dumarating, sundin lang natin ang priority list ng gobyerno, sa health workers, sa frontliners, pababa sa indigents, sa mga senior citizens. Ito naman sa A4 natin ay napakahalaga rin ang kanilang (media) ginagampanan,” said the senator.
According to a resolution approved by the IATF on April 15, frontline media workers in private and government news organizations will be vaccinated alongside other essential sectors in the A4 category, such as commuter transport workers, market vendors and frontline workers in the food industry, among others.
“I will clarify sa IATF kung anong mga guidelines at polisiya, saan kayo lalapit para mabakunahan na at tuloy-tuloy ang ating roll-out,” Go said while addressing the media.
In line with this, Go called on government to provide detailed guidelines on required processes to be followed by those who are next in line or are now eligible to be inoculated.
Go reiterated the need to ensure accessible, efficient and orderly vaccine rollout in different parts of the country to lessen waiting time and exposure of the public. He also urged DOH to spread out vaccination centers in barangays and even consider administering vaccines in villages or smaller residential clusters.
“Bringing vaccines to smaller residential clusters, like villages, sitios, or subdivisions, will avoid overcrowding in existing vaccination centers and will prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” Go said.
“As we expect more vaccines to be delivered and as we have also widened the priority list to cater to more essential sectors, we must keep on ramping up and speeding up the vaccination rollout to achieve herd immunity,” he added.
He said doing inoculation in smaller residential clusters would be safer for residents than if they were to go to overcrowded barangay vaccination centers and those located in malls.
“LGUs and DOH must maximize available facilities, volunteers, doctors and nurses to speed up an orderly inoculation. Sabi nga ng Pangulo noon, dalhin dapat ang bakuna sa pinaka-mahihirap at pinaka-malalayong mga lugar,” he said.
On this note, Go reiterated the importance of strictly adhering to the vaccination priority list. He reminded the public to be disciplined, vigilant, and cooperative with the government in the face of rising new cases of COVID-19 infections.
“Ulitin ko, sumunod tayo sa priority list, alam natin gusto na natin mabakunahan pero ayaw natin mayroong mag-oovertake na hindi naman kasama sa priority list,” stressed Go.
“Huwag kayong mag-alala dahil ginagawa naman ng gobyerno ang lahat. Ang importante rito, tuloy-tuloy ang pagbabakuna… sakripisyo muna tayo ngayon. Disiplinahin natin ang ating mga sarili, turuan natin ang ating mga kapitbahay na magdisiplina. Para naman ito sa ating lahat para hindi tayo mas mahirapan,” he reasoned.