Vaccine rollouts started in the Philippines in March, and Filipinos can finally see the light at the end of this very long tunnel. Quarantine restrictions have turned our world upside down, and many see vaccines as a way to get our lives back on track again.
But the distribution has been slow, and with scarce resources, the rising cases of COVID in the country are alarming Filipinos. This fear of being part of the ballooning COVID case number is what’s driving some to skip the priority line in vaccine distribution. It’s incredibly sad that we have to spell this out, but here’s why you shouldn’t.
What does it mean to “skip the vaccine line”?
To skip the line for COVID vaccinations is to get the jab even if you don’t fall under the current vaccine priority group. It’s to figuratively shoulder your way to the front of the line and shove everyone else aside just so you can get that sense of security. Sadly, most people who skip the line either have connections to health workers or use their friends in power for favors.
It’s unethical to get ahead of others
You don’t need us to tell you it’s unethical to use your connections to get a VIP inoculation.
Back in early March, Ramon Tulfo Jr., President Rodrigo Duterte’s special envoy to China, shared that he had already been vaccinated with a Sinopharm jab along with members of the Presidential Security Group and a few government officials. This happened a week before the first day of the government’s official vaccination program. Tulfo even expressed interest that he wanted to be a distributor of the vaccines.
Naturally, it caused an uproar on social media. Mainstream media tried questioning the action, but nothing has been done in response.
Let this sink in: Mon Tulfo got a vaccine ahead of all our healthcare workers, including those he tried to shame in PGH.
The delays in vaccine rollout in the country are inexcusable, but even more offending to the Filipino people are the double standards of this administration.
— Gideon Lasco (@gideonlasco) February 24, 2021
You’re disrupting peace and order
Priority groups are created for a reason — to reduce hospitalizations and mortality among the high-risk groups.
On March 25, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that we stand to lose 44 million dosages of COVAX vaccines if mayors continue to ignore the line for a vaccination. Some of the names he mentioned were mayors in Tacloban, Legazpi, Bohol, Palawan, and South Cotabato.
Roque even proposed a law that would punish government workers jumping the line. It’s breaching the Salonga law Code of Ethics for public officers. But this law could not include ordinary citizens like, let’s say, actor Mark Anthony Fernandez. The actor was caught in a controversy after having vaccinated even if he wasn’t a frontliner.
Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez defended Mark Anthony Fernandez, who got the #COVID19 vaccine even if he is not a medical frontliner. People with comorbidities are 3rd on the priority list, next to healthcare workers and senior citizens.
— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) March 25, 2021
We’re in chaos in the middle of this pandemic. Of course, you’d want to get your hands on something that will ensure you won’t contract the virus just like how 892,880 (as of April 14) of our fellow Filipinos have experienced. But if you don’t respect the peace and order, it’s going to be even more difficult.
You’re making inequality worse
The duality of an animal pic.twitter.com/l03eyaOvtA
— astro (@astroboix1) April 13, 2021
Celebrity Tim Yap was under fire a few days ago after he posted about getting his jab. He mentioned that he got the vaccine as part of the priority group since he has hypertension, a comorbidity. Netizens took to Twitter to call him out by posting photos of him eating a hearty meal of lechon.
Why exactly are they angry, even when it seems like Yap followed the correct protocol of signing up and waiting for his schedule? He might not have tapped a close frontline friend to get him in the fast lane, but netizens argue that he could’ve refused the vaccine for those who needed it more.
You might remember a few months ago that Yap was also under fire for holding an extravagant birthday party at The Manor in Baguio. The event happened sans health protocols and was even attended by Baguio City mayor and national contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong.
However, health authorities all over the world do advise taking the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you — as long as you’re following protocols, of course.
This is a test of your character
Should i skip the line cause my brother is a Mayor? pic.twitter.com/QKs8zO1GSd
— LA Mumar (@LA_Mumar) April 13, 2021
On the other hand, basketball coach L.A. Mumar stood his ground and refused to skip the line. In a social media post, he said that people had been asking him why he and his family have not been vaccinated even though he is Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto’s half-brother.
“My mom didn’t skip the line, Vico didn’t skip the line, why would I?” Mumar wrote.
“They said it’s OK because it’s life and death? So what? Shouldn’t we hold on to our values more, when things are difficult? What will I tell my children? It’s OK to do something illegal because it’s convenient?”
“I’m not a Mayor like my bro, but we can do our part and choose what is right. One person, one family at a time. There is hope for our country!” he said
Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Monday said even his senior citizen mother and actress Coney Reyes was not exempted from complying with the guidelines of the local government’s vaccination program.
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) April 13, 2021
Mayor Vico Sotto wants everyone to know that there are priority groups to be followed in getting the jab. There will be no special treatment given to relatives and close friends. This is why he and his veteran actress mom, Connie Reyes, have also yet to be given the vaccine.
Think of the underprivileged
Who should get the vaccine?
The first priority group in the vaccine distribution are the frontline health workers, nursing aides, barangay health workers, and the like. This population group is followed by senior citizens and those with comorbidities. After these three groups, essential economic workers are next in line. Here’s a quick overview of the vaccine priority groups made by the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (iNITAG):
- A1: 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.
- A2: Senior citizens aged 60 years old and above
- A3: Persons with comorbidities not otherwise included in the preceding categories
- A4: Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ
- A5: Indigent population not otherwise included in the preceding categories
- B1: Teachers, social workers
- B2: Other government workers
- B3: Other essential workers
- B4: Socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigent people
- B5: Overseas Filipino Workers
- B6: Other remaining workforce
- C: Rest of the Filipino population
Where are we on the vaccine rollout in the country?
So far, the Philippines has been distributing two vaccines: China’s Sinovac and AstraZeneca via COVAX facility. We have 2.5 million doses of Sinovac and 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca. As of March 30, Rappler reports that 738,913 doses have been given to recipients and 1,344 of those were second doses. Here’s a timeline of rollouts for the rest of the year. Don’t worry, you’ll get yours too.