By Ali G. Macabalang
The Philippine government’s National Vaccination Program has breached the eight-million mark in the number of anti-COVID jabs administered at an average of one million per week, the lead implementing official announced on Sunday.
“There’s no letup in our vaccination campaign. All sectors of society are working together so that we can start to move on from this pandemic, bring back a greater sense to our lives, and further open up our economy,” Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar, said in a statement furnished with the Philippine Muslim Today news.
Galvez added: “Local government units and the private sector are playing a key role in this effort, as they ramp up the inoculation of their citizens and employees, respectively. They are really doing an amazing job and we would like to laud them for their hard work.”
Citing National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) data, he said the program as of June 18 has administered at least 8,050,711 doses nationwide, broken down at 5,953,810 first dose and 2,096,901 second dose.
To date, 94.24% or 1,053,373 healthcare workers (A1) have been inoculated. Some 1,939,599 senior citizens (A2) have received their first dose, while 536,476 have been fully vaccinated, he said.
For persons with comorbidities (A3), 2,005,206 have been given their first jab, while 498,925 have received both shots.
For the economic front-liners (A4), 452,600 were administered their first dose, while 8,127 have been fully vaccinated.
The vaccination of the A4 category began last June 7, but was limited to NCR plus 8 areas.
At least 23,826 indigent residents were given their first dose, as a number of LGUs in the NCR started inoculating their A5 priority sector.
“We’re now seeing an upward trajectory in the vaccination throughput across all priority groups. This is a very good indication that vaccine hesitancy is being addressed and more Filipinos, especially our senior citizens, are now willing to get inoculated,” Galvez said.
“We are happy that the public uptake for Sinovac has also increased significantly. The steady supply of doses particularly of this brand, will enable us to fast track the inoculation of the A4 priority group, as well as provide much-needed vaccines to emerging hotspots across the country,” he added.
Galvez said the country recorded its highest daily vaccination rate of 322,929 jabs on June 15.
For two consecutive weeks this month, the country maintained a weekly jabs rate of more than one million per week. For June 12 to 18, the country administered 1,252,234 doses.
The country now has 3,991 vaccination sites. Since the rollout of the vaccination program in March, the NVOC has deployed 11,731,640 vaccine doses nationwide.
“We will sustain our momentum, as we expect a steady supply of vaccines in the coming weeks and months,” Galvez emphasized.
As of June 19, the country has received a total of 14,205,870 doses purchased by the government and private sector, as well as those donated by foreign governments.
These vaccine brands include Sinovac, Sputnik, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca.
In the first three weeks of June, the country received a total of 5,876,820 doses, consisting of 3.5 million Sinovac doses, 2,276,820 Pfizer doses (from COVAX), and 100,000 Sputnik V doses.
Galvez said that Sinovac has already confirmed the delivery of another 1.5 million on June 24.
Some 250,000 Moderna doses, including those purchased by the private sector, have been confirmed to arrive on June 27.
The COVAX facility will also be shipping 2,028,000 AstraZeneca doses in June, while 150,000 doses of Sputnik V (component 2) vaccines are scheduled to be delivered this month.
“We also expect to receive the US donation of vaccines before the end of June,” Galvez bared.
Galvez said the government expects to receive 11,670,000 doses in July, consisting of 4.5 million Sinovac shots, and one million doses each of Moderna and Sputnik V vaccines.
The initial shipment of 1.17 million AstraZeneca doses purchased by the private sector are also set to arrive in July.
The COVAX facility is also scaling up its deliveries next month with four million doses of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech.
According to Galvez, the initial release of US-donated vaccines to COVAX of about 80 million doses will provide a major boost to the facility’s efforts to provide nations around the world with much-needed doses.
Israeli experts to visit PH
Galvez bared that three experts from Israel’s Ministry of Health will be in the Philippines from June 20 to 25 to share their country’s experiences on vaccine deployment.
“Their arrival in the Philippines will help us fine-tune our vaccination roll-out. We want to learn from the best practices being implemented in Israel and hopefully, replicate and use them in crafting our country’s policies,” Galvez said.
He said that among the topics to be discussed during the consultation meeting will be the efficient roll out and safe handling of vaccines and improve public uptake.
The Israeli delegation will meet with some of the Philippines’ top medical experts, as well as visit some of the country’s vaccination sites.
Procurement of Pfizer and J&J vaccines
Meanwhile, Galvez said that following “productive discussions” during the Senate Committee of the Whole’s hearing last week, the country’s vaccine negotiating team, together with representatives from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, are now in the final stages of sealing the deal for the procurement of 40 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and six million doses of Janssen vaccines.
“We are pleased to inform the members of the Senate and the Filipino people that the supply agreements with both vaccine manufacturers are due to be signed anytime this week by me and Secretary Duque,” Galvez said.
“With the steady arrival of donated and procured vaccines in the country, we are confident that our target of having more than 184 million doses of anti-COVID 19 shots in our inventory before the year ends will be realized,” he added. (AGM)