Malacañang gave assurances Tuesday the country’s national vaccination drive would not be hampered despite the upcoming May 2022 national and local elections.
This after National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., expressed concern that the upcoming elections could have an impact on the daily vaccination output since local government units (LGUs) would be preoccupied as the election campaign kicks off next month.
“Of course, what we in the national government will do is make sure that our work will not be hampered, we will continue to focus on that,”
Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a Palace press briefing.
Nograles emphasized the need for coordination between national and local governments to ensure that vaccination and other government services will remain operational.
He also acknowledged that some LGU officials are also running for reelection.
Nograles said the Department of the Interior and Local Government would have to ensure that LGUs continue to deliver vaccination services and remain “neutral” carrying out their duties.
“We will make sure that vaccination and our Covid response is not politicized and that everybody stays and remains neutral especially in administering vaccines, they should not favor anyone). And we will make sure that the targets are met,” he said.
As of January 10, 52.8 million individuals had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Philippines aims to vaccinate 90 million by June.
2-week health break
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines reiterated the call for the implementation of a two-week “health break” in areas placed under Level 3 by the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
This is after a quick survey conducted by ACT’s NCR union chapter revealed that 55.1 percent of teacher respondents in the region are experiencing flu symptoms amid the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
On the same day that the Department of Health recorded the highest daily count of new infections at 33,169, the ACT NCR Union surveyed a total of 7,448 public school teachers to gather their current health situation.
The most common symptoms experienced by teacher-respondents were colds (46.6 percent) and coughs (44.5 percent).
Due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, medical students, different medical and allied health councils, organizations, and individuals, strongly appeal to prioritize their health and safety and uphold previously released guidelines on this matter.
They emphasized specifically the CHED Memorandum Order 14 which provides that all interns and clerks have the option to have their
rotation as either purely virtual or via limited face-to-face rotation and rotation of clinical interns should only be in non-COVID areas.
“The health and safety of clerks and interns should not be compromised in a situation where the health care system and the health workforce is being overwhelmed by the poor COVID-19 pandemic response now entering its third year,” said Joyce Brillantes, National
Vice-chairperson of Philippine Medical Students Association.
They also called on the DOH, CHED, the deans, and administrators of medical schools to heed the following urgent and vital calls:
• Holding of proper consultation and close communication with clerks and interns to properly and thoroughly assess their unique conditions on the ground, and extend compassion to their circumstances
• Providing free RT-PCR testing for all clerks and interns who have COVID exposure or COVID infection, regardless if contracted from
either community or hospital transmission
• Giving free and sufficient PPE allocations for all clerks and interns assuring that clerks and interns will not shoulder the cost
due to lack of supply
• Giving free medical care or accommodation in the health management of clerks and interns infected with COVID-19
• Strengthening of current health and safety protocols/guidelines which includes letting clerks and interns handle only confirmed
non-COVID 19 patients
• Non-imposition of academic penalty for students who will miss activities due to COVID infection or quarantine such as risk of repeat
rotation and need for make-up duty that may risk delay in graduation or leveling up; instead allow students to replace missed classes with online activities/projects while considering deadlines and submission of requirements.
With the high risk of being exposed to COVID patients in the hospital, many health workers have developed symptoms or tested positive leading them to quarantine or isolate, respectively.
The PMSA initiated a consultation with clerks and interns in 31 hospitals/schools who had or are currently having their limited face-to-face rotation.
Data from participants who responded were collected and showed the following:
• Out of 1193 clerks, 75 tested positive, while out of 1,385 interns, 176 tested positive
• Out of 19 who responded, 10 institutions provide free RT-PCR testing; out of 10 who responded, 7 institutions provide free admission, medical treatment, or other forms of support (teleconsultation); and out of 11 who responded, 5 institutions provide free PPEs to clerks and/or interns.
• With the above data, serious concerns were raised regarding the safety and well-being of clerks and interns especially in the past few days during which the COVID cases are soaring.
Health workers’ safety
Amid the Omicron surge, the Alliance of Health Workers and hospital unions condemned the “continuous abandonment” of the Department of Health and the Duterte administration of health workers’ safety, protection, and welfare.
“We have been facing the battle against COVID-19 for almost two years now and sadly our situation has become more miserable, said AHW
national president Robert Mendoza.
He said the DOH, IATF and Duterte government’s strategy to solve the pandemic remains flawed, futile and a failure. For two years, health
workers remained vulnerable to the virus, he added.