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Almost all economic frontliners, including BPO workers, part of A4 priority group —Concepcion

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Secretary Joey Concepcion on Wednesday said almost all economic frontliners, including business processing outsourcing workers, have been included in the A4 priority group for COVID-19 vaccination.

"Halos lahat ng economic frontliners [kasama sa A4]. Sa meeting namin ng National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) composed of doctors, mayroon mga sectors na hindi pa nakasali katulad ng BPO, et cetera. Pero ipinasok na rin namin 'yan kasi may ilang mga sectors na hindi pa kasama. Mukhang ipinasok na rin sila. So halos lahat ng economic frontliners ngayon in various sectors are part of the A4 already," Concepcion said in an interview on Unang Balita.

(Almost all economic frontliners [are now part of the A4 priority group]. During our meeting with NITAG composed of doctors, there were sectors not yet included such as BPO, et cetera. But we included them all since there are sectors not yet included. It seems they were all included. So almost all economic frontliners now in various sectors are part of the A4 already.)

The government’s inter-agency COVID-19 task force earlier announced that the following essential workers are part of the A4 sector:

  • workers in commuter transport (land, air, and sea), including logistics
  • public and private wet and dry market vendors
  • frontline workers in groceries, supermarkets, delivery services
  • workers in manufacturing for food, beverage, medical and pharmaceutical products
  • frontline workers in food retail, including food service delivery
  • frontline workers in private and government financial services
  • frontline workers in hotels and accommodation establishments
  • priests, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders
  • security guards/ personnel assigned in offices, agencies, and organizations identified in the list of priority industries/sectors
  • frontline workers in private and government news media
  • customer-facing personnel of telecoms, cable and internet service providers, electricity distribution and water distribution utilities
  • frontline personnel in basic education and higher education institutions and agencies
  • overseas Filipino workers, including those scheduled for deployment within two months
  • frontline workers in law/justice, security, and social protection sectors
  • frontline government workers engaged in the operations of government transport system, quarantine inspection; worker safety inspection and other COVID-19 response activities
  • frontline government workers in charge of tax collection, assessment of businesses for incentives, election, national ID, data collection personnel
  • diplomatic community and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) personnel in consular operations
  • Department of Public Works and Highways personnel in charge of monitoring government infrastructure projects


Vaccine orders

Concepcion said the private sector has procured AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Covaxin COVID-19 vaccines for their employees.

The first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines, consisting of 1.3 million doses, is expected to arrive in June, he said. The private sector has ordered a total of 17 million AstraZeneca doses, of which almost 6 million doses will be for the private sector and 11 million for local government units, the presidential adviser added.

Concepcion said the private sector will have their employees vaccinated first, then the later doses to arrive will be given to the government.

"'Yung government donation namin, pumayag naman si Secretary [Carlito] Galvez [Jr.] na kami muna ang mauuna. Pagkatapos, ang donation namin sa kanila, bandang huli na 'yan," he said.

(With regards to our government donation [of vaccine doses], Secretary Galvez agreed to have this done after the private sector gets its allocation first.)

Concepcion said the private sector's other vaccine orders will be arriving soon.

"'Yung Moderna, may dadating ng June at hopefully, tuloy-tuloy na rin siya. 'Yung Novavax na galing ng India, may parating na rin 'yan late third quarter to fourth quarter. 'Yung Covaxin so far itong EUA [emergency use authorization] niya ay conditional. So hopefully na-submit na lahat ng requirements para may mga arrivals na balak din ayusin parating dito by June as well," he said.

(The first shipment of Moderna vaccines will arrive in June and hopefully succeeding shipments will arrive. The Novavax from India will arrive in the late third quarter to fourth quarter. The Covaxin so far has conditional EUA. So hopefully, all requirements have been submitted so the vaccines' arrival may be in June as well.)

"So marami na rin 'yan para sa private sector," Concepcion said.

(So that's already a lot [of vaccines] for the private sector.)

"Balak namin, lahat ng A4 na pinasa sa amin lahat ng classification, at palagay ko papayag ang NITAG, ibabakuna namin. Kasi pera namin 'yan. Binili namin 'yan para sa lahat ng empleyado namin," he added.

(We plan to have all those belonging to the A4 group that are part of the private sector, and I think NITAG will allow it, be vaccinated by us. We paid for those vaccine doses for our employees.)

Concepcion said the private sector will convince all their employees to take the COVID-19 vaccines.

"We're going to convince them, lahat ng empleyado namin. Kasi nobody is safe until everybody gets the vaccine. At sabi ni Presidente, importante 'yan. Ang tingin ko dito, civic duty natin 'yan na kunin ang bakuna. If you have no other reasons, no health reasons — or if you are not of age, then ok lang — if you're perfectly normal to take the bakuna, dapat kunin natin lahat 'yan. Or else hindi natin makukuha ang herd immunity na tinatarget natin na 70% of the population," he said.

(We're going to convince all our employees [to take the vaccine] because nobody is safe until everybody gets the vaccine. And the President said that is important. I think it is our civic duty to get the vacine. If we have no other reasons, no health reasons — or if you are not of age, then it's okay — if you're perfectly normal to take the vaccine, then get it. Or else we will not achieve the herd immunity which is targeted to be 70% of the population.)

Concepcion added that if the herd immunity is not achieved, the goal to save lives and livelihood will likewise not be achieved. "Tuloy tuloy ang problema natin na close-open ang economy natin parati," he added.

(We'll have the recurring problem of having the economy closed then opened always.)

The Philippines is eyeing to vaccinate around 58 million or 70% of 83 million people who live in COVID-19 hotspots to achieve herd immunity, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday. 

Over three million Filipinos were already vaccinated against COVID-19, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday.

The government will start inoculating persons belonging to the A4 and A5 priority groups once the COVID-19 vaccine supply in the country becomes steady, Galvez said. —KG, GMA News