The last days of 2020 up to early 2021 brought us perhaps the most important news we’ve all been waiting for since the pandemic started — the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination programmes in the Philippines. Amid that wait and all the rumpus that came with it, the Philippine government announced that it is all set to kickstart its COVID-19 vaccination drive on 15 Feb 2021.
In line with this, the coveted COVID-19 vaccine priority list has been released, while questions about the lifting of all quarantine restrictions in the Philippines emerged. To answer these, we’ve gathered the following fine points in the hope of leaving no Filipino uninformed in these crucial times.
COVID-19 vaccination priority list
Upon recommendations by the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the Department of Health Technical Advisory Group, the following individuals are approved to get priority for COVID-vaccination in the Philippines:
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, et cetera.
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 (enhanced community quarantine).
A5: Indigent population not otherwise included in the preceding categories.
Once all those under the A class are vaccinated, the programme will move on to vaccinating the following:
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 indigenous people
B5: Overseas Filipino workers
B6: Other remaining workforce
The C class, which covers the remainder of the Philippine population, shall be vaccinated last.
On top of priority groups or individuals, COVID-19 vaccine priority regions have been specified. The list would be adjusted on a monthly basis from the start of the programme, depending on the number of active cases in each region and the proportion of these cases per 100,000 population, among other factors.
These priority regions, as of writing, are:
- National Capital Region
- Davao Region
- Cordillera Administrative Region
- Eastern Visayas
- Central Luzon
- Cagayan Valley
- Western Visayas
- Northern Mindanao
- Ilocos Region
- Central Visayas
- Zamboanga Peninsula
- Bicol Region
How the programme will affect quarantine rules
It’s been made clear that COVID-19 vaccines do not necessarily guarantee 100% immunisation from the coronavirus, regardless of the brand. That being said, in an online meeting via CNN Philippines, three leaders from the National Capital Region expressed that such vaccination efforts of the national government do not mean the complete removal of the lockdown, at least in Metro Manila.
Referring to the programme, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said that there’s no correlation between COVID-19 vaccination and lifting of quarantines. “Kapag sinabi mo kunwari, magsa-start na tayo sa February, it doesn’t mean that automatically magre-relax na tayo,” she said.
Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco and Caloocan City Mayor Oca Malapitan agreed, emphasising the need to depend on the recommendations of Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and health experts before modifying quarantine rules.
For more updates on quarantine restrictions in the Philippines, follow our COVID-19 travel advisory here.