PASIG (2 September 2021) – The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID 19 has adopted a forward-looking mindset in its vaccine procurement strategy, as it prepares to purchase additional doses as booster shots.

According to NTF Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., the task force has started to negotiate with four different manufacturers that produce COVID-19 booster shots.

He said these shots shall be initially allocated for the A1 priority group composed of medical frontliners and healthcare workers.

“We are awaiting for the recommendation and evaluation of the NITAG (National Immunization Technical Advisory Group) as well as from the World Health Organization on the need for booster shots in the country,” he said on Thursday.

Galvez pointed out that the WHO has not yet recommended the use of booster shots in the Philippines, while Philippine vaccine experts are currently assessing the feasibility of administering them.

“But once they give us the cue that boosters are needed, we will process and arrange the procurement,” he said.

“We have started the negotiation and we will sign a non-binding term sheet soon just to lock in the supply,” Galvez added.

The national government, he said, has in fact allocated Php 45 billion for the procurement of booster shots.

Galvez said the Department of Finance gave the assurance that once the use of booster shots is approved, the national government will have the funds to procure the needed doses.

The vaccine czar said the NTF is working to ensure that the Philippines will be able to secure booster shots especially that other countries have started to use them

Galvez added the prospective suppliers can ship the booster shots towards the end of the fourth quarter of this year or early 2022.

“But for now, we will focus the inoculation program on those who haven’t received their vaccines yet,” he said.

The Philippines has so far received 52,792,130 doses as of September 2. These include the 188,370 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from the COVAX facility that arrived today.

As of September 1, a total of 34,102,314 doses have been administered nationwide wherein around 19.9 million doses were given as the first shot.

The country’s fully vaccinated individuals have reached 14,105,330 and accounts for 18.22% of the Philippines’ target population.

“Malayo pa tayo sa ating target of 77 million fully vaccinated individuals. But we will try to accelerate this September and October and work on achieving 20 million fully vaccinated Filipinos by the end of the month,” said Galvez.

He shared that the NTF is eyeing to scale up the administration of the vaccines’ second shot from five to six million doses this September to increase the number of fully vaccinated individuals.

“Apart from ensuring the stability of vaccine supply, we are also focusing on the administration of the second dose and increasing the capacities of vaccination sites. We will aspire na makuha ‘yung 20 million by the end of the month,” Galvez said. END