The Philippines on Monday began its coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination campaign, with health workers inoculated with vaccines donated by China. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

TWO-THIRDS of Philippine employers are planning to buy coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines for their workforce, a survey from global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson and the People Management Association of the Philippines found.

The survey of 250 human resource practitioners in February showed that 65% have either already made arrangements to buy vaccines or are in the process of doing so.

Among the employers who have not started the process of buying vaccines, 58% are considering doing so, leaving 42% with no plans to buy COVID-19 doses.

As many as 68% of employers said that they would fully subsidize the cost of vaccines, while 11% said they would partially pay for the doses.

Around 7% of the employers said they would limit financial support to part of their workforce, with half of those saying that they would only pay for permanent employees’ inoculation.

“As for dependents and/or household members, the vast majority (71%) of companies would pass on the full cost to their employees,” Willis Towers Watson said in a statement on Tuesday.

For those in the process of buying vaccines, 60% said they are planning to provide vaccines for their employees’ dependents, while 52% of those who have not yet started the process said the same.

“When procuring or facilitating the purchase of the vaccine for employees’ dependents, over half of the respondents have indicated that these would include spouses, parents of single employees and children, all of whom are residing with their employees,” Willis Towers Watson said.

Over 40% of employers plan to include the parents of married employees, siblings of single employees, and those living in their workers’ households.

Most or 70% of employers considering buying vaccines said they are conducting a survey to find out how many employees are interested in inoculation. Among those who have not done a survey, 15% said they would wait for a confirmation of their orders before doing so.

The employers are looking at various vaccine administrators, with 37% considering a third party, 19% planning to work with their health maintenance organization, and 15% considering their on-site clinic provider.

The Philippines started vaccinating healthcare workers on Monday after receiving 600,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s CoronaVac donated by the Chinese government.

Another half-a-million doses of a vaccine made by AstraZeneca Plc would be delayed by about a week due to global supply problems, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III earlier said.

National Policy Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vivencio “Vince” B. Dizon on Tuesday said there’s no specific date yet for the arrival of the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

“Companies need to focus on the health and wellbeing of their employees. In a study we conducted last year, 93% of employers think that the pandemic will have a negative impact on employee wellbeing. In a more recent survey, two-thirds of the respondents said that their companies’ response to the current pandemic or preparation for a future pandemic impacts their wellbeing approach and activities,”  Willis Towers Watson Philippines Health and Benefits Leader Susan La Chica said in the statement.

“By providing timely communication, benefits and access, employers can assist employees in getting vaccinated. This is an important role that employers can play in helping to protect their employees and limit the spread of COVID-19.” — Jenina P. Ibañez