MALACANANG (10 January 2022) — The National Task Force Against COVID-19 reaffirmed its commitment to achieve the country’s vaccination targets for this year amidst the surge in coronavirus cases due to the Omicron variant.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People public address on Monday, NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. gave the assurance that the country remains on track to realize its target of fully vaccinating at least 90 million Filipinos by the end of the second quarter.

This, despite challenges faced by the country including the continuing surge in infections and the upcoming national elections.

“Iyong biglang pagtaas ng mga kaso at infection ay malaking balakid sa ating isinasagawang vaccination dahil ang focus po ng ating mga healthcare workers ngayon at saka ang ating mga LGU at medical personnel ay manduhan ang mga ospital, at marami din po sa kanila ay nasa quarantine,” Galvez said.

“Pangalawa po, iyong upcoming election po na mahahati ang atensyon ng ating mga LGUs ay may malaking impact sa ating current daily vaccination output,” he added.

According to the vaccine czar, the government has sufficient vaccine supplies to hit its 90-million target since there are still 100 million doses in the stockpile.

“Mayroon po tayong babakunahan pa na primary series o ‘yung unang bakuna sa 28-30 million na katao,” Galvez explained.

“Though ‘yung 100 million doses na nasa stockpile po natin ay sapat sa remaining primary series ng unvaccinated at para sa 25 million na eligible ngayong quarter for boosters,” he added.

As of January 10, a total of 114,263,805 vaccine doses have been administered nationwide. Of this number, 52,856,932 individuals are already fully vaccinated.

Three target milestones

Out of the 90-million individuals who are expected to be vaccinated by the end of the second quarter, 77 million are expected to get the jab by the end of the first quarter.

In the meantime, the government aims to complete the vaccination of minors aged 12 to 17 years old.

These are among the targets included in the first milestone of the national vaccination campaign this year.

The second milestone focuses on expanding the number of fully vaccinated individuals to 90 million by the end of the second quarter.

Meanwhile, the third milestone is focused on finishing the primary and booster vaccination of the general population.

“Our last milestone is to finish the boostering of the 71.16 million by the end of third quarter. We will also push for the vaccination of the rest of the population to make sure that all Filipinos are protected by the vaccines,” Galvez said.

Vaccination for minors

In the meantime, task force officials also emphasized the need to protect children in the face of the mounting threat of the Omicron variant.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the new variant is now the dominant variant based on the latest genome sequencing.

The latest surge in infections has placed the entire country in the critical risk classification.

“Base po sa ating pinakahuling run of our whole genome sequencing, 60 percent na po, Mr. President, sa mga samples na na-sequence ay positive for Omicron variant. So siya na po ‘yung nagdo-dominate na variant whereas before it was the Delta,” Duque said.

“Ang ating bansa ay kasalukuyang nasa critical risk case classification na may pagtaas na 690 percent sa atin pong 7-day moving average of daily reported cases; 3,663 percent naman para sa two-week growth rate; 10.47 average daily attack rate; at 40.4 percent positivity rate,” he added.

To maximize the protection among all population groups, Galvez announced that the government is now planning to include children aged zero to four years old in the vaccination program starting April this year, pending an amended emergency use authorization to be given to vaccine manufacturers.

Currently, only Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are used for minors aged 12 to 17. For children aged five to 11, the government will be using reformulated Pfizer vaccines starting next month.

“Iyong children formulation na 5 to 11 years [old] might be available by the end of January. Ito po ‘yung last contact po namin sa ating mga manufacturer and we are now making some contingencies to acquire doses that we need to include the ages 0 to 4 years old,” Galvez said.

The government is also seeking to administer booster shots for children aged 5 to 11 and 12 to 17 within this year, depending on the amendments to the EUA of vaccine makers. ###