The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) called on the government to include people living with HIV (PLHIVs) in the priority list of those who will receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Pastor Carleen Nomorosa, the council’s program coordinator for PLHIVs, said these persons have comorbidities and should be among those in the priority list.
The Philippines this week has started to roll out its COVID-19 national immunization program to priority sectors and groups.
First on the list are medical frontline workers, health professionals, janitors, and village health workers, among others.
Citizens with ages 60 years old and above are next on the list followed by “persons with comorbidities.”
Frontline personnel in essential sectors including the police and the military and those working in sectors identified by the government as “essential” are also on the list.
Other sectors or groups, such as indigent population, teachers, social workers, other government workers, other essential workers, and the rest of the population will follow.
Nomorosa, however, said the country’s Health department “has no clear guidelines” for vaccination of PLHIVs under the category “persons with comorbidities.”
She said that since last year, when the government imposed strict health restrictions, many HIV treatment facilities stopped the delivery of services and many were closed.
“A person living with HIV must undergo an individual risk assessments before getting vaccinated,” said Nomorosa, adding that without clear guidelines PLHIVs will continue to be left out.
As of 2020, the Philippines has a total of 8,085 HIV cases with 846 deaths. Since the first infection in 1984, the country has recorded 82,865 HIV cases and 4,574 deaths.