PASIG CITY — The Philippines recorded its highest daily vaccination rate since the National Vaccination Program was rolled out in March, as the government administered 229,769 vaccine doses on May 20, breaking its previous highest record of 120,529 jabs on May 15.
“We are very happy with this milestone, as we were able to double the number of jabs in less than a week. I am very confident that with the current pace that we have, we can breach the four million mark by early next week,” said National Task Force against COVID 19 Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.
As of May 20, a total of 3,718,308 doses have been administered nationwide to priority groups A1 (healthcare workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with comorbidities).
Early this month, Galvez said the government is eyeing to administer at least two million shots in May following the steady arrival of anti-COVID vaccines.
This target is twice the total number of shots administered in March and April.
“We are now moving past the crawl stage as we begin to walk. However, this is not yet enough as our main goal is to run, where we will be able to administer at least half a million doses or more daily. And I am certain that if we keep this momentum, along with the continuous delivery of vaccines to throughout the country, we can make this happen,” said Galvez.
“The pace of the ongoing vaccination we are witnessing right now is unprecedented. We are happy to see that all sectors of society are working together to achieve our common goal of herd immunity by the end of November. The national government, local governments, and the private sector are one in ensuring that we are able to build back a better Philippines. By June, we will expect to have higher outputs when we all join hands in accelerating the vaccination and open our target population from the economic and government frontliners (A4) and indigent/poor communities (A5),” he added.
Increasing vaccine supply
On Thursday, May 19, another 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines arrived, bringing the country’s total vaccine supply inventory to 8,279,050 since the first vaccine delivery was made in February this year.
According to the vaccine czar, bulk shipments from the COVAX facility and Sputnik V are expected to arrive at the end of this month and this coming June comprising 2.2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 300,000 doses of Sputnik V.
A total of 10,050,000 doses from different manufacturers are due to arrive, including the supply committed by COVAX before the 2nd quarter ends.
Moderna is making its first delivery to the country with 200,000 doses procured by the government and 50,000 doses purchased by the private sector. AstraZeneca is also set to deliver the initial supply procured by the private sector by June with 1.3 million doses.
Sinovac is shipping out 4.5 million doses to the country, where half a million shots were procured by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce And Industry, Inc.
Sputnik V is also scaling up its delivery in June with at least 2 million doses, while COVAX will be sending another two million doses of AstraZeneca.
Galvez said that by the start of the third quarter, vaccine shipments to the country are expected to increase to at least 15 to 20 million doses monthly.
“We are on track with our vaccine rollout, and we can assure the public that as we scale up our vaccine procurement, we are also ramping up our vaccination rate. Through this, we can all have a better Christmas this year,” Galvez said.
No to vaccine bias
The vaccine czar reiterated that all vaccines used in the national immunization program are safe and effective, as these have undergone the rigorous review process by the country’s vaccine experts.
He stressed that there should be no “vaccine brand preference,” as all vaccines that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration are safe, effective, and will protect everyone against severe symptoms of COVID-19 as well as prevent hospitalization, and death.
President Rodrigo Duterte recently reminded the public to take the jab as soon as possible and look beyond the vaccine brands.
“If you are there in that community, go there and have yourselves vaccinated by any of the vaccines available. They are all potent. They are all effective. So there’s no reason for you really to be choosy about it,” the President said.
Vaccine experts are also speaking up, as they have urged the people to stop vaccine preference saying, “the best vaccine is the one in your arm.”
Walang maiiwan, walang iwanan
As COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region and its nearby provinces start to go down, some cities and provinces in the country are experiencing surges.
The NTF visited Puerto Princesa, Palawan and Zamboanga City on May 20 and 21, respectively to help local government units (LGUs) ramp up their respective COVID-19 response efforts, and address the ongoing spike in cases.
Task Force officials led by Deputy Chief Implementer and testing czar Secretary Vince Dizon turned over 10,000 antigen test kits to the LGUs.
According to Dizon, both cities can also expect to receive additional vaccine doses to ensure that more residents will be inoculated and protected against the virus.
Dizon committed to work on fast tracking the approval of Palawan’s molecular laboratory to scale up the detection capabilities of Puerto Princesa and Palawan province.
He said that the application for the establishment of the molecular labs capable of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing could be approved by next week.
In Zamboanga, the NTF turned over 1,000 personal protective equipment (PPEs), 100 vials of Remdesivir, and 13 high flow cannulas and five ventilators to local executives.
Two of the ventilators have been allocated for the Zamboanga City Medical Center, while three units will be for the use of Basilan’s health facilities. Dizon said that an additional 14,000 PPEs will also be sent to the city next week.
The Department of Health also committed to provide an additional 11 ventilators to the city next week.
Galvez said that these interventions from the national government is a testament to the President’s promise to the Filipino people that during these trying times, “walang maiiwan, walang iwanan.” END