Amid lack of vaccine supply, Palace bares influencers among priority in rejected jab allocation proposal

March 2, 2021 - 6:28 PM
A military officer gestures after being vaccinated with Sinovac Biotech’s Coronavac during the vaccination of Philippine military at the national headquarters of the Philippine Army in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 2, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Questions about the government’s priority list for its COVID-19 mass immunization drive once again surfaced after the Malacañang revealed that there was a proposal to reserve vaccine shots for “influencers.”

In the Palace’s daily briefing on Tuesday, its spokesperson said that they were considered to be given priority in receiving China’s Sinovac jabs to boost public confidence in vaccines.

The Palace added that no specific names were thought of.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also said that there were 50 people being eyed, including himself, President Rodrigo Duterte, some politicians, government officials and a number of media personalities.

The proposal was thumbed down by the interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group or iNITAG because they wanted the shots reserved for the healthcare workers, who are at the frontlines of the pandemic.

The presidential spokesman said this was also the reason why he was not vaccinated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac.

The Palace official, however, underwent a pre-vaccination screening on the same day that the China-made vaccine had its initial rollout in the country.

He previously said that he was willing to be vaccinated with Sinovac but he wasn’t able to make the cut on Monday. Reports said that there were only a certain number of shots allocated to the hospital where the ceremonial kick-off took place.

Meanwhile, the revelation of the government’s plan to allocate vaccine shots to “influencers” did not sit well with Filipinos who stressed that medical frontliners should be given the priority.

They questioned the government’s intention in making such proposal.

“Dapat walang proposal in the first place. Hindi ba kayo nakikinig sa taong bayan? O nagbibingibingihan? HEALTH CARE WORKERS are the PRIORITY and should be given the RIGHTFUL VACCINE. Hindi ‘to product launch na magsisend kayo ng PR (public relation) kits,” a Twitter user wrote in response to the news.

“Good that it was rejected but who proposed it and why???” another online user said.

“Not u (you) trying to prioritize influencers,” a different Filipino likewise wrote.

Another Twitter user claimed of “seeing it on TikTok before” and shared his disbelief upon finding out that it was supposedly considered.

In the government’s priority list for COVID-19 vaccines, the following are the ones who should receive the jab first: “Frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc.”

Healthcare workers are the foremost priority since they are the ones who are the most exposed to the virus in their day-to-day duties.

Ordinary individuals may have to wait until May or at least in the second quarter of 2021 before they can be vaccinated, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday blamed the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the country to global supply shortage.

“I’d like to disagree because the global supply is the big problem,” Duque was quoted in a televised interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, when asked of the alleged mishandling of COVID-19 vaccine supply.

“Ten countries have already secured 75 percent of the global supply and even the WHO (World Health Organization) has missed on its target to get the poorer countries to get off with their vaccination, 130 countries,” he added.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, it was reported that social media influencers were among the first ones to be vaccinated as part of its government’s communications strategy to boost public confidence about vaccines.

READ: Instagram influencers are a vaccine priority in wary Indonesia

It somewhat backfired when a television personality was seen partying without a face mask and disregarding physical distancing protocols hours after receiving the jab.