Actor and non-frontline healthcare worker, Mark Anthony Fernandez, got inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Parañaque City on Monday.
Reports of Fernandez’s vaccination emerged following news of politicians and public personalities jumping the queue ahead of those in the government's vaccine priority list.
Since the country started its vaccinations on March 1, the government allots the limited supply of donated vaccines—China’s Sinovac and AstraZeneca from the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility—for frontline healthcare workers.
“Nagpaturok ako kahapon at wala siyang side effect sa akin. Lumakas pa ako,” Fernandez told Pep.ph in an interview on Tuesday.
“Galing sa UK yung vaccine. Yung ibang side effect, either lagnatin ka nang kaunti o mahilo. Ako, walang ganoon. Medyo lumakas pa ako,” said Fernandez, who also claimed his health is in good condition and he does not take maintenance medicine.
“Palagi akong nag-eensayo kaya hindi mataas ang blood pressure ko o blood sugar. Malaking bagay iyon,” he told Pep.ph, revealing that he already has a schedule for his second dose of the vaccine.
In an interview with ANC on Wednesday, Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez explained that more than 90 to 95% of the city’s frontliners have already been vaccinated and the city has started giving jabs to senior citizens and residents with comorbidities.
Olivarez said that the city’s medical team found Fernandez with comorbidities upon the initial screening, which made him eligible to be vaccinated.
“Kinausap ko po 'yung ating city health official Dr. Olga Virtusio regarding the issue of Mark Anthony Fernandez and according to her 'yung tumingin sa kaniyang doktor, siya ay may comorbidities. At alam naman po nating nagkaroon ng depression si Mark, ibig sabihin niyan he's qualified as the next priority after frontliners,” Olivarez said.
“Mabilis ‘yung ating vaccination… we did not violate the guidelines of DOH,” he said.
For her part, Parañaque health official Dr. Olga Virtucio said in a separate interview that the city has a "substitution list" that allows a replacement for someone who did not arrive on one’s scheduled vaccination.
"Madami na kamisubstitution list for thosesa perimeterat madaling tawagan, natatawagan agadand they would come immediately'yun nalalagay sasubstitution list.Ilalagay namin sana anghealth workers,kaso minsan anghealth workerilalagay mo sasubstitution list,di pa rin makarating kasi nasa mgaduty," she said.
Meanwhile, in an interview with DZBB, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing was furious about the news of Fernandez’s jumping the line. “Kaninang umaga, napikon ako. Pikon na pikon ako dahil dito sa Parañaque, may artista na binakunahan, yung Mark Anthony Fernandez,” he said.
“Mayroon tayong priority llist, may programa na sinusunod. So yung mayor diyan (Olivarez), dapat sinusunod niya at alam niya yung pag-implement ng vaccination program niya,” Densing added.
The Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group’s priority list states that medical frontliners are the first priority, next are senior citizens and persons with comorbidities.
On Monday, Department of Health Undersecretary Dr. Leopoldo Vega said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart that 71 to 75% of healthcare workers in Metro Manila have already been inoculated with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, while only about 35% of healthcare workers in the provinces were vaccinated. "Below 50%” have so far been vaccinated across the country according to Vega.
In the same interview, Vega also confirmed that there are reports of individuals who are not in the priority group who are getting the COVID-19 jab. When asked about the possible penalties on non-compliance with the government’s priority list protocols, Vega, who is also the country’s COVID-19 treatment czar, said he leaves it to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and NITAG.
Early this month, the World Health Organization said the Philippines’ supply of vaccines from the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility may be at risk if the country fails to follow prioritization requirements.
The WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe also emphasized that the vaccine from COVAX facility should be given to healthcare workers, the elderly and people with comorbidities.
Thumbnail and inner image by Jopet Sy