Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will receive the vaccine their destination country requires. It will be given by the government despite the Philippines’ limited supply of Western vaccines. According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, certain countries prefer Pfizer, though he did not elaborate.
What Bello did mention was the stance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Workers with Chinese-made vaccines face more stringent quarantine rules. This includes OFWs that got jabbed with Sinopharm or Sinovac.
Back in May, OFWs bound for KSA were temporarily held back from departing the Philippines. In order for it not to happen again, Sec. Bello asked that OFWs be given the brand their employers require by the NTF (National Task Force Against Covid19).
NTF deputy chief Secretary Vivencio Dizon responded to this accordingly. Seafarers and OFWs have been moved to the A1 category, the top priority of the government. Given the limited Pfizer supply, the dole out priority is land-based OFWs or seafarers whose departure is in four months’ time.
Around mid-June, the Manila City government and manning agency Magsaysay Maritime Corp, organized an exclusive vaccination. They gave out Pfizer shots to roughly 1,200 seafarers. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who was in attendance, encouraged other seafarers’ unions and other agencies to coordinate group vaccinations with local governments.
He also clarified that there is no violation of equal protection or favoritism, since particular brands are part of employment conditions.