EXPANDED VACCINATION. The government begins the vaccination of persons belonging to the A4 priority group at the SM MOA in Pasay City on Monday (June 7, 2021). At least 50 individuals from various sectors such as education, tourism, transportation, mass media, service, and business process outsourcing industry are set to receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. (PNA photo by Lade Kabagani)

MANILA – Some 50 workers from various sectors received their first dose of vaccine against the dreaded Covid-19 as the government kicked off the mass vaccination of the economic front-liners under the A4 priority group at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City on Monday.

Christopher Molo, a 28-year-old Angkas rider, said getting vaccinated would lessen his fear to get infected with the disease and have serious illness conditions due to the virus.

He said he decided to get vaccinated to also protect his family against the risk of transmission.

"May takot at kaba dahil bukod sa panganib ng kalsada, may takot na rin sa virus kasi may posibilidad kami na mahawa rin na mas nakakatakot (There is fear and nervousness because apart from the danger of the road, there is also fear that we might get infected with the virus -- that is more worrisome)," Molo said during the symbolic vaccination attended by officials from public and private sectors.

Molo said he always keeps the health protocols in mind during his work hours. But he is more feeling safe now that he is vaccinated.

"Kahit papaano, secure na kagaya namin, mga rider, araw-araw nasa labas and then also, iba-ibang tao ang nakakasalamuha (Nonetheless, we are now secured, riders like us, that we always meet and engage with different people every day)," he said.

Christopher Molo, 28, Angkas rider

Molo urged other motorcycle riders to avail themselves of the vaccine shots, saying it will give them assurance that going in and out of their homes would also be safe for their family members.

"Nirerekomenda ko na magpa-vaccine na kayo hangga't meron, kasi it's better po na meron kayong vaccine kaysa wala eh. Lahat naman ng vaccine natin napag-aralan na. Although marami sila, pero lahat naman 'yan, I think, ay safe para sa'tin (I recommend to you to get vaccinated while there are vaccines because it's better to be vaccinated than nothing. All of our vaccines have been studied. Although there are many of them, all of them, I think, are safe for us)," Molo said.

Don’t be choosy

TV host Iya Villania-Arellano said she decided to get vaccinated to become safe from the risks of getting infected.

"I wanna feel safe and I wanna contribute to taking that one step towards that achieving of herd immunity. That's why we decide to get vaccinated. I wanna be one with everyone else in being able to give way the life that we had," Iya said.

Iya Villania-Arellano, TV host/Actress

Iya and her husband Drew Arellano were both vaccinated with Sinovac vaccines, encouraging more Filipinos to avail themselves of the Covid-19 jabs.

"Don't be choosy. Get what is available, because it is our way of being able to get back to our lives, and be able to enjoy what we used to be able to enjoy without the mask, without the face shield. Enjoy fresh air, enjoy breathing properly, and enjoy the outside world with our families, with our loved ones. So guys, come on, let's get vaccinated," she said.

Maurel Magyani, a service crew for eight years with Jollibee, said getting vaccinated will save her child from the danger brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I feel safe kasi nabakunahan na ako (because I already got vaccinated)," she said.

Magyani, 27, shared it is much safer to get the vaccine than contracting the infectious disease.

As a parent, she said vaccination is an effective way of protecting her child. It also eases her fear that she might spread the dreaded virus unknowingly.

Maurel Magyani, 27, service crew at Jollibee

John David Martin, 29, a teaching professional for eight years in Hagonoy, Bulacan, sees the opening of the vaccination for the A4 priority group as one way towards returning back to normalcy.

"Ngayon na nabakunan na ako, buo 'yung pag-asa ko na unti-unti ay makakabalik na tayo doon sa nais na normal na pamumuhay lalo na para sa sektor ng edukasyon na gusto na nating maranasan itong (Now that I am vaccinated, I am full of hope that little by little we will be able to go back to our normal lives, particularly for the education sector which we want to experience this) limited face-to-face classes," said Martin.

He decided to get vaccinated to acquire protection and become safe from the risks of Covid-19 while teaching.

"Bilang isang guro ay mayroon tayong moral na responsibilidad na ipagpatuloy ang education kaya nagdesisyon kami na magpabakuna (As a teacher, it is our moral responsibility to continue the education, that's why we decided to get vaccinated)," Martin said.

Set an example

Martin added that it is also his contribution to the government's call to more Filipinos to participate in the National Covid-19 vaccination program.

"Para maging halimabawa sa ating mga kapwa guro na makiisa dito sa panawagan natin na magpabakuna para magkaroon na tayo ng proteksyon at laban mua dito sa pandemyang ating nararanasan (To become a role model to our fellow teachers to participate in the call for vaccination so that we can get protected and to fight the pandemic that we are experiencing right now)" Martin said.

John David Martin, 29, a teacher in Hagonoy Bulacan

The Philippine government has decided to inoculate essential workers belonging to the A4 priority groups in areas where there is a high-risk exposure to Covid-19 infection.

The initial vaccination rollout for the A4 priority group is being carried out in the areas of Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao, which are collectively called the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus 8.

The first phase of the inoculation covers employees in private companies who are working outside their homes; employees in government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) and local government units (LGUs); and informal sector workers and those self-employed who work outside their homes, and those working in private households.

In his taped message for the event, President Rodrigo Duterte said the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines “in bulk” and the vaccination of essential workers boost the government’s efforts to beat the pandemic.

"We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel as the vaccine shipments have arrived, have started to arrive in bulk. This development is the result of our national government’s aggressive efforts to secure sufficient doses from the different manufacturers," Duterte said.

Duterte also reminded the public to continue to adhere to the minimum public health standards.

Top officials of the LGUs under NCR Plus 8, together with the private sector, pledged their commitment to provide a quick and efficient mass rollout of the vaccination program for A4 workers.

The NCR Plus 8 officials were joined by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the League of Provinces of the Philippines. The private sector was represented by the Task Force T3, led by Presidential Adviser Joey Concepcion.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography also reminded LGUs to continue the prioritization of A1 to A3 Priority Groups as vaccination for A4 starts.

"We should exert all efforts to continuously prioritize A1, A2, and A3 priority groups by establishing special lanes or special vaccination centers for them," Go said via a taped message.

Also joining the event were Cabinet Secretaries Ramon Lopez, Silvestre Bello III, Carlito Galvez Jr, Vivencio Dizon, and Francisco Duque III who administered the first dose of vaccine for A4 to Arellano. (PNA)