MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government rolled out on Monday its massive three-day vaccination drive in a bid to inoculate more Filipinos against novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said all local government units (LGU) are fully prepared for this undertaking, which will cover the general population.
The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said that a total of 11,000 vaccination sites and 160,000 volunteers are expected to be activated and mobilized for the nationwide campaign.
But instead of the 15 million initial target, the government adjusted its target vaccination output to 9 million across 16 regions outside of Metro Manila for the three-day vaccination drive.
The National Vaccination Operations Center earlier said this is due to logistical challenges they encountered, such as the delayed arrival of ancillary supplies, particularly medical syringes that were ordered by the government.
The NTF said the three-day vaccination drive from November 29 to December 1 will only be the first leg of the program, which 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.
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,” said Galvez, who also serves as NTF chief implementer.
The government is also eyeing to open the booster shots for the A4 (essential workers) 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,” he said.
For the private sector, Galvez said they are still awaiting the amendments of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand the coverage before administering booster doses to 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 vaccine doses nationwide. Of this number, 45,286,049 have been administered as first doses, while 35,557,409 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated.
Galvez expressed confidence 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.
A total of 142,153,340 doses of various COVID-19 vaccine brands have been delivered in the country since February.