COTABATO CITY: Health workers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) would be the first to receive the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines once the vaccination rollout starts in the region by the end of March or early part of April this year.
This was according to Dr. Zul Qarneyn Abas, deputy chief of the Ministry of Health – BARMM, who briefed the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority on the region’s vaccination strategy Thursday afternoon.
Abas said the plan involves three priority eligible groups–A, B, and C–for the vaccine’s distribution and deployment, with the health front-liners as the topmost priority.
He said Group A includes all frontline health workers from public and private health facilities such as hospitals or temporary treatment and monitoring facilities; health workers from rural health units, city and municipal health offices, barangay health emergency response teams; and frontline workers from the ministries of social services, education, and local governments.
“Also included in the first group are frontline workers from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Bureau of Corrections, as well as indigent senior citizens, remaining senior citizens, remaining indigent population, and uniformed personnel from the police, army, coast guard, and fire service,” Abas said.
Group B consists of teachers, other BARMM government workers, other essential workers from the field of agriculture, food, industry, transportation, tourism, manufacturing, construction, socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk (PWDs, Bangsamoro living in high-density areas), overseas Filipino workers, and the rest of the workforce.
“All remaining Bangsamoro population not included above shall be in Group C,” Abas said.
Abas said the priority groups were based on the guidance issued by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), whose primary goal is the reduction of morbidity and mortality and the maintenance of the most critical essential services.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister also announced that the BARMM would be receiving the AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Sinovac vaccines from the national government.
“We specifically didn’t request for the Pfizer because it will require -70°C cold storage facility and at the moment we do not have a warehouse storage with that capacity,” Abas said, adding that MOH can only provide the 2°C to 8°C storage required for the three aforementioned vaccines.
He also said the MOH is procuring vaccines with the P500-million initial allotment of the BARMM government to supplement those to be given by the national government to ensure that every constituent will be immunized against the virus.
MOH–BARMM has so far identified seven vaccination fixed-post sites across the region that includes the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital; Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Lanao del Sur; the Sulu Provincial Hospital; Datu Halun Sakilan Hospital in Tawi-Tawi; Lamitan District Hospital in Basilan; the BARMM government center in Cotabato City; and the Police Regional Office – BARMM health service station in Parang, Maguindanao.
Abas said that MOH-BARMM is set to release campaign materials on how the public can access accurate and reliable information about the Covid-19 vaccines.