PASIG CITY (03 MARCH 2020) — A total of 2,793 individuals received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot in 11 hospitals throughout the National Capital Region.

This was the official count as of 7:33 pm on March 2, according to National Task Force against COVID 19 Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr in an interview on Wednesday.

According to Galvez, 12 individuals have reported to have experienced “very minor” adverse reactions after immunization, while 154 inoculations were deferred due to the ineligibility of recipients following their assessments prior to vaccination.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergiere previously provided possible scenarios wherein an individual may be considered ineligible for vaccination due existing health and medical conditions on the day of their immunization.

Vergiere explained this was the reason screening areas have been set up in all vaccination sites — to ensure that individuals are physically fit to receive the vaccine.

The Vaccine Czar is confident that more people, particularly healthcare workers, will be encouraged to be vaccinated, as the government has received additional requests for vaccine doses from different hospitals.

“Maganda ‘yung naging rollout ng first day ng 6 hospitals at nakita natin na talagang ‘yung rollout from 700 plus ngayon naging 2,000 na. Tuloy-tuloy po at nakikita naming dodoble nang dodoble yung uptake,” said Galvez.

“Nakakatuwa kasi initially, ‘nung unang araw, walang halos kumuha eh, mga 13% lang ang nag request. Ngayon, nauubusan na kami ng ano, actually meron kaming ginagawa, tinatawag na strategic reserve pero ngayon naubos na,” he added.

During his presentation to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, Galvez reported that regions across the country already have their respective vaccine allocations.

The number of allocated doses, he explained, was based on the demand from their respective healthcare workers.

Galvez said that buffer doses enough for 35,000 people will be set aside for areas that might be needing more supplies due to a possible spike in COVID-19 cases.

“‘Yung dati, meron kaming 70,000 na doses na reserved ngayon paliit nang paliit. Kahapon siguro mga 25 [thousand] nalang. Ibig sabihin, halos araw-araw, maraming tumatawag na mga congressman at mga mayors, talagang gusto nilang mabigyan din ‘yung mga ospital po nila sa kanilang mga lugar,” he shared.

Currently, 202,182 individuals have signed up for inoculation in Luzon, 51,140 in the Visayas, and 94,540 in Mindanao.
Since March 1, the following hospitals have started their vaccine rollout: Philippine General Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Veterans Memorial Medical Center, Philippine National Police General Hospital, Victoriano Luna Medical Center, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Pasig City General Hospital, Pasay City General Hospital, Taguig-Pateros District Hospital, and Sta. Ana Hospital.

Healthcare workers first

Galvez reiterated that the vaccine supplies on hand will only be administered to medical frontliners and healthcare workers, as the government aims to inoculate two million people in this sector within the month.

“Ang healthcare workers po natin ang projection ay more or less 3.4 to 4 million po na doses ang kailangan po natin kasi 1.7 to 2 million po ‘yung ating healthcare workers,” he said.

“Isama pa po natin ‘yung mga LGU health officers at ‘yung mga frontliners nila sa barangay health emergency response team nila yung BHERTs kailangan din po na ma inoculate po natin ’yan,” Galvez added.

This decision, he said, was made following the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) to allocate all available doses to healthcare workers to ensure the preservation of the healthcare system.

Galvez said this is the same instructions he got from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Some vaccines will be procured using DOH budget

While forging multilateral arrangements is among the main modes utilized by the government in the procurement of the majority of brands in the Philippines’ vaccine portfolio, Galvez shared that Sinovac and Gamaleya will be purchased using funds of the DOH.

He explained that finance institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have their respective “requirements” on the vaccine brand that should be procured by governments.

According to the Vaccine Czar, the World Bank requires manufacturers that will meet the requirements of three Stringent Regulatory Authorities (SRA) in which only Moderna and Pfizer—BioNTech will qualify for this.

ADB, on the other hand, only requires one SRA, wherein Novavax, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson will qualify.

“Sa Sinovac at Sputnik [Gamaleya], we will be using DOH fund sa GAA at savings sa DOH,” said Galvez.

The Philippines expects to receive 4.5 million vaccine doses this March – one million of which will be sourced from government-procured Sinovac, while the 3.5 million doses are from the COVAX facility. END