Frontline workers of the tourism industry won’t have to wait in line any longer to get their vaccination shots against Covid-19; they are now included in the A1 priority group of the national vaccination program.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat hailed the decision of the National Task Force (NTF) to include frontline tourism workers in accommodation establishments utilized as isolation facilities or quarantine hotels in the A1 priority group of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
In his letter to Puyat last week (May 15), vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) had approved the request of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to place the quarantine and isolation hotel workers under the A1 priority group initially intended for medical frontliners.
The medical frontliners (A1) were the first to be vaccinated in the government’s vaccination program, followed by seniors (A2) and persons with comorbidities (A3). Vaccination for the A4 priority group, a larger group which includes other tourism frontliners, is expected to start next month.
“We are very pleased to inform you that the request for inclusion of frontline employees in accommodation establishments used as isolation or quarantine hotels in the Priority Population Group A1, has been favorably acted upon,” Galvez said.
Puyat said this response to the DOT’s request would greatly benefit the tourism industry and its stakeholders.
“We express our deepest gratitude to Secretary Galvez and the NTF. Most of our tourism workers were reporting for work even at the onset of the pandemic while most of the cities and municipalities were still under an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). It is high time that we protect our tourism frontliners knowing that they are risking their lives each time they show up in the designated quarantine and isolation hotels. This move shows the government’s commitment to protect them. Not only will this decision help ensure the survival of the tourism industry; this will also hasten the country’s economic recovery,” Puyat said.
Early this year, the IATF approved the DOT’s proposal to include more tourism workers under the A4, in addition to those working in quarantine hotels and airports. Those under A4 include workers from the transport sector and the food, restaurant and accommodation enterprises.
To date, a total of 2,507 employees of quarantine hotels nationwide have been successfully inoculated against the COVID-19 virus.