The first batch of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine doses have been deployed to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said.
In a statement, the task force said a total of 30,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine arrived in Tawi-Tawi on Monday and will be rolled out in the municipalities of Sitangkai, Turtles Island, and Mapun Island.
Another 30,000 shots have also been shipped to the province of Basilan.
These Janssen vaccine doses are part of the 3.2 million shots donated by the United States government through the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX facility. The jabs arrived in the country last week.
According to BARMM Health Minister Basharay Latiph, the rollout of the Janssen vaccine will begin after the Eid-al Adha.
The vaccines will be distributed to the island-provinces beginning Wednesday, July 21, and that vaccinators from the BARMM Ministry of Health will also be sent to the areas to administer the shots, he added.
In coordination with the Western Mindanao Command, the NTF said that at least 40,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine allocated for Sulu will be deployed on Tuesday, July 20 through a military aircraft.
NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr said that out of the 10 million doses of anti-COVID 19 vaccines received by the national government this month, more than 300,000 doses have been allocated to the BARMM.
The shipment is composed of 150,000 Janssen vaccines, 19,500 COVAX-donated Astrazeneca vaccines, and 130,992 Sinovac vaccines.
“Our commitment to COVAX and the US government is that the vaccine supply, particularly Johnson & Johnson will be deployed equitably to all regions. The first deployment in BARMM is particularly intended for geographically-isolated islands and those communities living in our borders and along the boundaries of the Philippines,” said Galvez.
“Priority should really be given in these areas. Our development partners like UNICEF, who have seen first-hand the difficult situation in BARMM, have also given the same recommendation. And we are happy to share the same views and approaches on how these vaccines should be deployed,” he added.
As part of the COVAX-donated supply, the Janssen vaccines are to be used to inoculate priority groups who are highly vulnerable to the disease, as identified by the WHO.
In particular, the vaccines will be administered to healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), and persons with comorbidities (A3).
Galvez said additional vaccine doses will be shipped to the BARMM in the coming weeks.
The NTF said that over 113,000 jabs have already been administered in BARMM. Around 80,478 residents received their first dose while 33,085 individuals have been fully vaccinated.