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Vaccine brand prioritization for OFWs, seafarers pushed

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and seafarers should be prioritized to receive preferred brands of COVID-19 vaccines as long as they present their deployment order or contract from their foreign employer.

Senator Bong Go made the proposal during President Rodrigo Duterte's briefing, saying that some countries were are allowing the entry of travelers only if they were inoculated with certain brands of vaccines.

"May suggestion at napag-usapan na ito na yung procured na bakuna na not covered ng COVAX (facility) baka pwedeng mabigyan ng priority ang mga seafarers and OFWs," Go said.

"Unofficially na hindi tatanggapin sa ibang bansa, pagpasok nila doon, pero yun yung nagdadalawang isip sila na magpabakuna ng ibang brand ng bakuna dahil 'di sila sigurado na tanggapin sa pupuntahang ibang bansa," he added.

Duterte said distribution of vaccines is not a matter of their location.

"When you begin to distribute ang mga bakuna and pipiliin mo yung tao, this is not really a matter where you're going," Duterte said.

The European Union is expected to soon accept certificates issued by non-EU countries for travel by their citizens.

Talks are already going in that direction with the United States but, so far, not with former EU member Britain.

A certificate trial is to be conducted in May before the initiative is launched across all EU countries. Safeguards are to be in place against forgery and to uphold data protection.

The commission and the parliament agree that the vaccines accepted across the bloc will be those authorized by the European Medicines Agency: currently from BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

They say individual EU countries could additionally allow other vaccines, as would likely be the case of Hungary and some other states that have opted to use Russia's Sputnik V jab or ones produced by China. —NB, GMA News