The government is aiming to vaccinate at least 500,000 people daily for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) with the simultaneous inoculation of priority eligible groups.
Prioritization in the national vaccination program also depends on the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, according to National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez.
“Once we have the steady supply of vaccines, we can synchronize, Mr. President, so that the LGUs (local government units) could maximize and become flexible to vaccinate the targeted 500,000 daily,” he said in a virtual public briefing late Monday partly in Filipino.
President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed the arrival of 1 million doses of CoronaVac jabs on Monday, purchased by the Philippine government from Chinese biopharmaceutical company, Sinovac Biotech.
The first batch of the government-procured 25 million doses of CoronaVac landed at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on board an “all-cargo charter” Philippine Airlines flight PR361 from Beijing.
To date, a total of 2 million doses of CoronaVac are already in the country. The first batch (600,000 doses) donated by the Chinese government arrived on Feb. 28.
On March 4, the first shipment of 487,200 vaccines developed by British-Swede drugmaker AstraZeneca arrived from the COVAX Facility.
The Philippines began the inoculation of healthcare workers and other medical professionals under the A1 category on March 1.
Parañaque and Manila, meanwhile, have started inoculating its senior citizens (A2), with the nation’s capital city also adding persons with comorbidities (A3) on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, San Juan City began its A2 vaccination and Pasay its A2 and A3 groups.
The four LGUs are either done or nearly done with its A1 lists.
‘Burden of disease’
Galvez reiterated the presentation of international experts that healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities are the ones with the so-called “burden of disease.”
“The experts in Israel, US and Indonesia likewise combined those priority groups to reduce hospital occupancy,” he said partly in Filipino.
“So, it is like we are helping our healthcare workers. When persons with comorbidities and the elderly will not be hospitalized, we can take away the burden of disease and burden of death,” Galvez added partly in Filipino.
The government is targeting to inoculate at least 9.4 million senior citizens and 14 million adults with comorbidities.
President Rodrigo Duterte lauded Galvez’s simultaneous vaccination proposal.
“You know that is a good suggestion actually, I was about to say few things about the matter,” Duterte told Galvez partly in Filipino.
“It goes like this, they should hasten the vaccination of those health workers under priority A1. They must go now, they must look for it, to have the vaccine ahead of time. Speed up the process because there are others waiting in line,” the President added partly in Filipino.
Given the rapid mutations of the virus and emergence of the new Covid-19 variants, Galvez said the vaccination process must be expedited within Metro Manila and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal, to reduce the number of deaths.
Citing the recommendation from the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and other medical experts from the private sector, Galvez said “we have to concentrate our efforts to contain the virus and achieve herd immunity in Metro Manila”.
He further suggested combining the priority groups up to the A5 category.
A4 beneficiaries are other frontline personnel not in the A1 to A3 groups while A5 is the estimated 7.7 million indigent population based on the national household targeting system for poverty reduction.