In a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the country’s retailers are asking the government to include retail frontline workers in the priority sectors for Covid-19 vaccination in order to restore much-needed consumer confidence and allow businesses to sustain their operations.
Philippine Retailers Association president Rosemarie Ong and Chairman Paul Santos requested the IATF to extend the priority Covid vaccination to retail front liners, including those in public markets, as they are exposed to the general public every day.
Noting that the Philippines has a consumption-driven economy, the PRA said the support for the retail industry would be necessary for the country’s recovery. It further emphasized that the local retail industry is among those still struggling with the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the government announced the priority sectors for the Covid-19 vaccination program: A1 or frontline workers in health facilities, both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, and barangay health workers; A2 or senior citizens aged 60 and above; and A3 or persons with comorbidities not included in the preceding categories.
Those in A4 are uniformed personnel and working in sectors identified by the IATF as essential during the enhanced community quarantine, while A5 covers indigent population not included in preceding categories.
B1 covers teachers and social workers, B2 refers to other government workers, and B3 are other essential workers. B4 refers to socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people, B5 are overseas Filipino workers, while those in B6 are the remaining workforce.
The local retail industry plays a significant role in a consumption-driven economy and the past year of quarantines and lockdowns have made it extra-challenging to stay afloat. The request to include retail frontline workers in the vaccination priority list is certainly reasonable but since it will be up to government leaders to determine its priorities, other sectors might be prioritized and the private sector will be forced to step up and fend for themselves, as usual.
Hopefully, our government’s priorities when it comes to its vaccination program are in the right place.*