ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Vaccination campaign: Church calls for priority treatment for poor population groups

Wednesday, 20 January 2021 pandemic   coronavirus   human rights  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The vaccination campaign, which will start in the Philippines in February, should, in addition to giving priority to health workers, also privilege the poorest and most vulnerable: this is what the Philippine Church demands. People who are really in need and who are suffering should therefore be given preference. Meanwhile, consideration had been given to including bishops and priests in the priority categories. The bishops of the capital region - which include the Archdiocese of Manila and the dioceses of Antipolo, Cubao, Kalookan, Malolos, Novaliches, Parañaque and Pasig - unanimously rejected this proposal and declared: "It is the poor who have a greater need of care and attention". "The priority of the vaccine must be given to doctors and health professionals who are on the front lines, and then to the most vulnerable populations", said, in a message sent to Agenzia Fides, Mgr. Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Manila, reiterating that, as requested from an official message from the Bishops, "the vaccination program should be made accessible to all" and "the vaccine should respect ethical principles" (see Fides, 15/1/2021). In the Archdiocese of Manila, vaccination for priests is voluntary. Meanwhile, the government, local authorities and private agencies are negotiating with vaccine manufacturers and have already purchased doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine and the vaccine from multinational companies Moderna and AstraZeneca. As part of the vaccination campaign announced for next month, health workers and, in the following phases, teachers and school staff, government employees, "essential workers" in the agricultural and food industries as well as in the areas of public transport and tourism are to be vaccinated. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 20/1/2021)