PASIG CITY (28 November 2021) — It’s all systems go for the massive vaccination rollout dubbed as Bayanihan, Bakunahan National COVID-19 Vaccination Days that will begin on Monday, November 29.

This was the assurance given by National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. during the PCOO’s live virtual presser on Sunday.

“Handang handa na po ang buong sambayanan sa ating Bayanihan, Bakunahan. Prepared na prepared na po ang ating National Vaccination Operations Center,” Galvez said.

“Nakatutuwa po na talagang karamihan sa lahat ng LGUs natin ay prepared na prepared at very motivated po sila na talagang pag-igihan at mag-participate sa Bayanihan, Bakunahan,” he added.

The first leg of the National Vaccination Days, which will be held from November 29 to December 1, aims to inoculate at least 9 million Filipinos across 16 regions outside Metro Manila.

This three-day vaccination campaign is focused on scaling up the inoculation rate of local government units for the first vaccine dose by covering up to 70% of their target populations.

A total of 11,000 vaccination sites and 160,000 volunteers are expected to be activated and mobilized for the nationwide undertaking.

The second leg of the vaccination event will be held from December 15 to 17, which will focus on ramping up the number of fully vaccinated individuals to achieve the government’s target of fully vaccinating at least 54 million Filipinos by year-end.

“Kailangan talagang buuin ‘yung 2nd wave ng vaccination days dahil kapag tumaas ang ating vaccination, we need to follow up ‘yung ating second dosing,” Galvez said.

He also said that it is possible to open the booster shots for the A4 category by December 10 or during the second leg of the National Vaccination Days, as long as the inoculation interval is met between their second dose and the booster shot.

“More or less 61 million doses naman ang ating stockpile. So ibig sabihin, we have more than enough vaccines for the booster shots, without losing our focus for our A1, A2 and A3 categories,” Galvez explained.

For the private sector, Galvez said that we still need to wait for the amendments of Food and Drug Administration to expand the coverage before administering booster doses to their employees who do not belong to A1, A2 or A3 priority groups.

As of November 27, the Philippines has administered a total of 81,017,994 doses nationwide. Of this number, 45,286,049 have been administered as first doses, while 35,557,409 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated.

Galvez is confident that the milestones achieved so far in the implementation of the national vaccination program will be sustained until next year, given the bigger vaccine shipments that have arrived and are now in the government’s supply inventory ready for deployment.

As of November 27, the Philippines has received a total of 142,153,340 COVID-19 doses since February from various manufacturers.

The vaccine czar said the government continues to hold negotiations with different manufacturers to secure 90 more million vaccine doses for 2022.

Preparations for the new COVID variant

Meanwhile, Galvez assured the public that the government, especially the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), is closely monitoring all developments regarding the new COVID-19 variant called Omicron (B.1.1.529).

The World Health Organization has recently classified Omicron as a variant of concern and was first reported by the South African government on November 24.

“Nag-usap-usap na kami sa IATF, para ‘yung preparation natin sa mga treatment therapies, ICUs, sa ating mga hospitals, personnel, hinahanda na po natin ‘yan,” Galvez said.

“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, huwag po kayong mag-panic. Sundin lang po natin ang minimum health standards at protocols, magsuot po ng face mask, at hopefully magawa natin ‘yung ating ginawa sa Delta variant where we were able to completely manage yung [virus and prevent] possible unnecessary loss of lives at economy,” he added.

Galvez said the IATF conducted an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss some modifications in the Philippines’ border restrictions and control.

The vaccine czar said Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles will soon announce the new policies regarding this matter.

For his part, Galvez said the country’s vaccination strategies will continue to be recalibrated, improved, and strengthened in light of the threat of Omicron, as the DOH and other agencies monitor developments on the new variant of concern.

“With the coming of the Omicron, we want to make sure that our focused targets, the A1 to A3, the most vulnerable ay [mabakunahan] po natin. In this case, kapag nakuha po natin ‘yan, mako-control natin ang critical disease, hospitalization at excessive deaths,” Galvez said.

“Ang aming panagawan din sa lahat ng ating kababayan, ‘yung mga wala pang bakuna, magpabakuna na. During the onslaught of the Delta [variant], nakita natin na karamihan ng casualties at severe cases ay 75-85% unvaccinated,” he added.

Despite the threat of the new COVID-19 variant, the vaccine czar said the national government remains committed to achieve its target milestones by next year.

This includes fully vaccinating at least 77 million Filipinos by the first quarter of 2022 and starting the inoculation for minors aged 5 to 11.

By the second quarter of 2022, the government shall have fully vaccinated 90 million individuals, in time for the national elections.

The rest of the Filipino population is expected to be fully vaccinated by the third quarter of next year based on the national government’s vaccination synchronization matrix. ###