Do you have cardiovascular disease, chronic liver disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, hypertension, malignancy and obesity?

If you have any of these medical conditions or comorbidities, then you qualify to be included in the government’s vaccination program priority list.

Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Data Analytics Expert Group member John Wong said the seven comorbidities have been identified as “A3” or the third priority group for vaccination since these illnesses can cause “severe outcomes” and even death among people infected with Covid-19.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the IATF imposed a policy where those under the A3 group must first present a medical certificate or medical abstract issued within the last 18 months or a doctor’s prescription within the last six months, among other proofs before they can be vaccinated.

Currently, 1.8 million health care workers are in the first priority category followed by more than nine million senior citizens.

“We have these seven pre-existing illnesses or comorbidities that also increase a person’s risk for hospitalization or death if they’re infected with Covid,” Wong said.

He stressed that those who have chronic respiratory diseases are “four times likely to get severe disease” when infected with COVID-19. These patients are also three times more likely to be admitted in the intensive care unit and four times more likely to die.

“And overall, the risk is 3.5 times to get adverse outcome. And you can see the same for all the other six diseases,” he said.

Wong said the IATF wants to emphasize that, “because of the current scarcity of vaccines, we have to prioritize those at highest risk for hospitalization and death.”

Wong’s data showed the Philippines has 14.5 million non-elderly Filipinos who have underlying conditions.

He added that depression is also considered a comorbidity but was not yet included in the priority list.  He did not state the reason why.

While the Department of Health (DOH) recognizes the value of mental health, Vergeire said they are doing a science-based and evidence-based evaluation to rationally allocate COVID-19 vaccines especially when coming up with the priority list.

However, since the country’s vaccine supply is still low, she said the IATF is finalizing a “sub-prioritization protocol” for those with existing illnesses or comorbidities. – Rommel F. Lopez