Sat. May 8th, 2021

Green groups are asking the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to include environmental frontliners, particularly waste workers, in the priority group for vaccination for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Sanitation workers and scavengers pick their way through the refuse of the landfill in the Payatas district of Quezon City, Metro Manila. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

In a letter to the IATF-EID, environmental groups, including community-based organizations of informal waste recyclers, appealed for the vaccine prioritization of workers involved in the management of municipal solid waste, healthcare waste, commercial and industrial waste, and hazardous waste.

“We hope the IATF will positively act on our collective appeal and include the environmental frontliners from the waste management sector as a priority population group for the ongoing immunization program,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.

“Ensuring early access to Covid-19 vaccine will undeniably provide health and economic benefits to our waste workers and their families. Access to Covid-19 vaccine, especially for the marginalized groups, is health and economic justice,” she added.

The groups said waste workers perform essential service to the community and the environment, and their job is high risk as they get in contact with materials and surfaces that host the virus that causes Covid-19.

They also said that informal waste workers are also daily wage earners who are also affected by the lockdowns and quarantines caused by the need to contain the spread of Covid-19. SOVEREIGNPH

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