AdChoiceTV News — Do you have chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, malignancy, diabetes, obesity and chronic liver disease?
Any of these seven comorbidities puts you in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccines, an expert from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said yesterday.
According to IATF Data Analytics Expert Group member John Wong, the seven illnesses have been identified to cause “severe outcomes” and even death among people infected with COVID-19.
This is the reason why people with these comorbidities have been identified as “A3” or the third priority group for vaccination, he explained.
Under the government’s vaccination program, health workers have the first priority and are followed by senior citizens.
“We have these seven pre-existing illnesses or comorbidities that also increase a person’s risk for hospitalization or death if they’re infected with COVID,” Wong said.
He noted that those who have chronic respiratory diseases are “four times likely to get severe disease” when infected with COVID-19. They are also three times more likely to be admitted in the intensive care unit and four times more likely to die.
“And overall, the risk is 3.5 times to get adverse outcome. And you can see the same for all the other (six) diseases,” he said.
Based on the data he presented, there are 14.5 million non-elderly Filipinos who have underlying conditions. On the other hand, there are 1.8 million health care workers and more than nine million senior citizens.
“What we want to emphasize is that, because of the current scarcity of vaccines, we have to prioritize those at highest risk for hospitalization and death,” Wong said.
He acknowledged that depression is also considered comorbidity but was not yet included in the list.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said while they recognize the value of mental health, they are doing a science-based and evidence-based evaluation to rationally allocate COVID-19 vaccines.
But because the vaccines are still not enough, she maintained that the IATF is finalizing a “sub-prioritization protocol” for those with existing illness.
Vergeire said the IATF had also decided that those who will get the vaccine under A3 category must present a medical certificate or medical abstract issued within the last 18 months or a doctor’s prescription within the last six months, among other proofs.
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said only one mayor who supposedly jumped the COVID-19 vaccination line has been able to respond to its show cause order.
DILG officer in charge Bernardo Florece Jr. said that as of yesterday, only Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi City in Albay filed his response. The other mayors in question include Alfred Romualdez of Tacloban City; Dibu Tuan of T’boli, South Cotabato; Sulpicio Villalobos of Sto Niño, South Cotabato and Abraham Ibba of Bataraza, Palawan.
They were issued the show cause orders last Wednesday and given three days to respond.
“We haven’t received anything (from them) yet. Maybe the weekend just caught up, (but) hopefully we will receive them today,” Florece told Teleradyo.
Some of the mayors reasoned that since many health workers refused to get vaccinated in their area, they decided to skip the line to boost confidence in the vaccines.
However, Florece said that even if this was the case, the priority list should still have been followed.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier said violating the priority list could impact future deliveries from the COVAX Facility, which provides vaccine supplies to countries in need, as it wants health workers to be prioritized.
Aside from the five mayors, the DILG also summoned seven mayors and a city councilor, whom it did not name, for similar incidents.
But President Duterte had said Mayor Elenito Peña of Minglanilla town in Cebu as well as Bohol mayors Victoriano Torres III of Alicia town, Virgilio Mendez of San Miguel town and Arturo Piollo II of Lila town were also inoculated.
Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan