MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court is looking into other options for its purchase of COVID-19 vaccines for officials and employees of the Judiciary in light of the reported unavailability of AstraZeneca doses.
“The initial request for the Judiciary was for the AstraZeneca brand, but upon advice of its unavailability by the office of [Secretary Carlito Galvez], the Judiciary will have to consider other options,” SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka told reporters.
Hosaka said updates will be given on the matter, but they are hoping that the Judiciary will be able to procure the vaccines as soon as possible, “considering the crucial role which the courts play in times of crisis. “
“Our judges and court personnel have direct contact with the public on a daily basis and Chief Justice [Diosdado] Peralta would want them fully protected from the NCov Virus,” Hosaka added.
The SC announced on February 11 that it has approved the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines for the more than 30,000 officials and workers of the Judiciary, worth P19 million.
The cost with will charged against the respective regular appropriations or savings of the SC, Presidential Electoral Tribunal, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals and the lower courts.
The Philippines started the rollout of its national vaccination program on March 1, a day after the arrival of donated vaccines from Beijing-based Sinovac.
AstraZeneca vaccines were supposed to arrive on March 1, but was delayed due to logistics and supply problems, Galvez said. The Palace however said they will arrive on Thursday, but the vaccine czar said he cannot confirm this report.
Vaccination of medical frontliners, who are on top of the priority list drawn up by the national coronavirus task force, meanwhile continues across the country.
Vaccination of prosecutors
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra meanwhile said state prosecutors are currently not included in vaccination priority list, except for the senior citizens among them.
“But when the domestic supply of anti-COVID 19 vaccines substantially increases, I will request their inclusion in the priority list, in the same category as judges and other court officers,” he added.
In the latest government list of priority groups for the vaccine, 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 are on top as A1.
Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the Inter-Agency Task Force as essential during Enhanced Community Quarantine are under A4.
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