Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire on Saturday said the agency is not devaluing other health workers not directly involved with COVID-19 patients by offering them Sinovac vaccines, which were previously not recommended to frontliners due to its lower efficacy rate.
"Gusto ko lang pong klaruhin sa ating mga kababayan. Hindi po walang kuwentang bakuna itong Sinovac para sabihin natin na kasi hindi puwede sa healthcare workers ibibigay na lang natin sa iba," Vergeire said at the Laging Handa public briefing.
Vergeire issued the remark after some medical technologists claimed there is a "double standard" on the part of the government when it recommended that the Sinovac vaccine - due to its lower efficacy rate - should not be given to health workers in direct contact with COVID-19 patients , and instead be given to those working in laboratories.
The medical technologists were reacting to a DOH official who said it was recommended to her that the Sinovac vaccine be given to medical technologists, pathologists, and those working in the laboratory.
In response, Vergeire cited the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s statement that Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine was not recommended for health care workers as it has an efficacy rate of 50.4%, based on human trials of the vaccine in Brazil.
"Kaya po nasabi niya siguro na kung hindi naman puwede sa mga healthcare workers na directly caring for patients, maaari nating ibigay doon sa mga hindi directly caring na laboratory personnel," Vergeire said.
"We consider all healthcare workers essential, importante and we value them. Kaya wala po tayong sinasabi na 'mas mababang klase' ng bakuna na ibibigay," she added.
"Ito pong parating na bakuna ng Sinovac 'pag tiningnan po natin sa kabuuan, this can lessen your chances of having severe infection by as much as 75%, and it can lessen your chances by as much as 100%, and can lessen your chances of being hospitalized and dying," Vergeire said.
The DOH on Friday said the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) has agreed to recommend the COVID-19 vaccine of China's Sinovac Biotech for health workers.
The NITAG finalized its recommendation after days of deliberation on how to allocate the 600,000 Sinovac doses that are expected to arrive on Sunday.
The FDA clarified that health workers can still get the Chinese vaccine if they want to.
The NITAG said it “respects the authority and supports the initiatives of the FDA” through their recommendations on the use of Sinovac for health workers.
Vergeire previously underscored that the FDA’s recommendation does not prohibit health workers from getting inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine.
The FDA previously said the Sinovac shot is best for clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59. -MDM, GMA News