PASAY CITY — From the 2,028,000 doses of Astrazeneca vaccines which arrived here on Friday, July 9, 1.5 million doses will be set aside as the second dose for individuals who received their first shot in May and June.

The 500,000 doses, on the other hand, will be deployed to regions with large populations who fall under priority groups A2 and A3, according to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, National Task Force against COVID 19 chief implementer and vaccine czar who welcomed the arrival of the fourth batch of Astrazeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility.

“Our vaccine supply from COVAX will be utilized for our vulnerable sector, A1 (healthcare workers and their families), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with comorbidities), while prioritizing those vulnerable communities in different regions,” Galvez said

As of July 8, 861,560 of the country’s 8,274,916 senior citizens have been fully vaccinated, while 2,632,861 have received their first dose.

Meanwhile, 3,184,933 out of the 7,085,183 individuals who fall under the A3 priority group have been inoculated with the first dose, while 1,039,710 have been fully vaccinated.

World Health Organization (WHO) representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe emphasized the need to inoculate those under A2 and A3 group “to protect as many people as possible and save as many lives as possible.”

“This is an important supply right now as we are looking at how we can increase the protection and coverage among the A2 and A3 groups,” Abeyasinghe said.

“We are urging the government to use these vaccines to ensure that the A2 and A3 groups have received their full vaccination,” he added.

Galvez committed that the latest AstraZeneca shipment will be deployed to areas across the country whose A2 and A3 priority sectors have not yet received their first dose.

He also thanked the WHO and GAVI for the continuous vaccine deliveries, especially during the “lean weeks” when there were slippages in the shipment of government-procured doses.

“We at UNICEF are very happy that the Astrazeneca vaccines have arrived at a critical time. Vaccines save lives, please get vaccinated,” said UNICEF representative to the Philippines Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov.

The latest shipment of Astrazeneca vaccines is the COVAX facility’s sixth vaccine delivery to the country, and the fourth consisting of Astrazeneca doses.

The initial delivery of 525,600 Astrazeneca vaccines arrived in two batches last March. This was followed by 2,030,400 doses in May.

To date, the Philippines has received a total of 20,607,570 doses from different manufacturers.
More than 10.4 million doses were government-procured, seven million doses were sourced from the COVAX facility, more than two million doses came from bilateral donations, while the rest were initial deliveries of LGU and private sector-procured doses.

Delivery of J&J vaccines

Abeyasinghe also confirmed the upcoming delivery of 3,024,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the “sharing agreement with the United States” and COVAX.

He said the delivery of the one-shot vaccine is expected to begin starting next week.

Galvez said the donated J&J vaccines will be deployed equitably among regions nationwide including the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, adding that all regions will receive at least 100,000 doses.

No need to worry on the expiration dates

Meanwhile, Galvez said the short shelf-life of anti-COVID vaccines should not be a cause for concern, as LGUs are expected to ramp up their vaccination rate once they receive the supplies allocated to them.

He said this was the same concern raised during the vaccine deliveries in May, wherein the expiration dates of vaccines fell on June 30 and the end of July. However, the LGUs were able to administer the vaccines immediately.

With the Philippines’ increasing vaccination rate, Galvez is confident that the government can administer as much as two million jabs weekly.

“There is no issue on the vaccines that have shorter shelf-life because we can administer them immediately. We have no problem with that,” he said. END