Filipino healthcare professionals working abroad will be joining local medical frontliners at the top of the COVID-19 vaccine priority list while other migrant workers who are not healthcare professionals are also expected to move up the line, Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said at a hearing of the House health committee on Tuesday.
At that hearing, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite raised the concerns of outbound OFWs about the vaccination requirement of the countries they would be deployed to.
“Many countries require the vaccination of our overseas Filipinos, including sea-based and land-based workers,” Gaite said.
“Due to the prioritization of overseas Filipino workers, I think they’re in B5 — still a bit far off,” he added, speaking partly in Filipino
He then asked for an update on what Health Secretary Francisco Duque told lawmakers last week — that he would recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases moving overseas Filipino workers up on the vaccination priority list.
“It was discussed already in the IATF. Those OFWs who are healthcare workers shall be included in the A1 priority list, provided that they can receive both doses of the vaccine in the country,” Vergeire explained.
The rest of the OFWs will be moved up to the A4 category or essential workers, she added.
“It has been given a positive consideration by the IATF. They just have to resolve this once the list is finalized,” she said. “So I think the OFWs will be upgraded into the A4 and the A1 list.”
Under the government’s priority list, the A1 category includes frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, and health professionals and nonprofessionals such as students, nursing aides, janitors, and barangay health workers.
Meanwhile, frontliners in essential sectors — including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during the enhanced community quarantine — belong to the A4 group.
Some 4,009 senior citizens — or those belonging to the A2 category — have also been administered their first COVID-19 vaccine dose.