Task force: PH fully vaccinates 54 million individuals vs COVID-19, 70pct of target population

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2022 08:10 PM

Residents receive their COVID-19 vaccine at the BASECO Community health center in Port Area, Manila on January 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Residents receive their COVID-19 vaccine at the BASECO Community health center in Port Area, Manila on January 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines has fully vaccinated more than 54 million individuals against COVID-19 or 70 percent of the target population, a government task force said on Friday, as the country faces a fresh wave of new infections most likely driven by the omicron variant. 

The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, in a statement, said government was able to fully immunize 54,423,286 people out of the 77.1 million target based on data on Thursday. 

The 54 million is the government's low-end target for full vaccination by the end of 2021. The Philippines started its COVID-19 vaccination drive on March 1 last year.

Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje told ABS-CBN News in October last year that the high-end target, covering some 77.1 million people, may only be reached in the first quarter of this year. 

But vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. attributed the government's failure to achieve the 54-million low-end target to Typhoon Odette and the surge of cases that happened earlier this month. 

Cabotaje earlier said some 21,000 COVID-19 shots were wasted in areas devastated by the typhoon in the Visayas and Mindanao. Odette is one of the strongest storms that has hit the country in recent years. 

“Malaki ang naging epekto ng Bagyong Odette sa ating pagbabakuna kaya bahagyang naantala ang pag-abot sa target nating 54 million fully vaccinated individuals sa pagtatapos ng 2021," Galvez said in the NTF statement.

(Typhoon Odette has gravely affected our vaccination which was why the target 54 million fully vaccinated individuals was not reached by the end of 2021.)

"Sinabayan pa ito ng panibagong surge ngayong Enero, pero hindi tayo tumigil sa pagbabakuna. Tinulungan natin ang ating mga local government units na pataasin ang kanilang vaccination throughput sa maraming lugar na hindi pa gaanong apektado ng surge kaya mataas pa rin ang ating output nitong mga nakalipas na araw,” he added. 

(This was compounded by the new surge this January but we did not stop the vaccination. We helped our local government units to increase their vaccination throughput in many places not affected by the surge.)

Galvez said government's focus right now is to inoculate those who have not received their coronavirus shots yet. 

 WATCH

Watch more on iWantTFC

He also urged localities to encourage their residents to get vaccinated to prevent hospitalization of the vulnerable from the respiratory disease.

“Let us prioritize the unvaccinated individuals who belong to the vulnerable sectors, while also ramping up the administration of booster shots for eligible individuals,” he added.

The Philippines is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases that experts attributed to the local transmission of the omicron variant. 

On Friday, the health department confirmed over 37,000 cases, the highest daily tally ever.

 2021 PROMISE: POPULATION PROTECTION

A total of 58.5 million individuals have received their first dose, while over 4.4 million others already got their boosters. 

The country has received a total of 213.6 million doses of different COVID-19 vaccine brands, of which more than half or some 117.3 million have been administered.

The vaccination drive currently covers health workers, the elderly, people with comorbidities, essential workers, indigents, and teens as young as 12 years old. 

Health authorities also plan to start the vaccination for children ages 5 to 11 by the first week of February. 

Government last year said it is eyeing population protection from COVID-19 through mass immunization amid the emergence of new variants, as "herd immunity" has a lot of criteria.

Population protection, according to the health department, means immunizing a huge part of the priority sectors to prevent deaths and hospitalization due to COVID-19. 

This is different from herd immunity where the goal is "continuous" protection from the virus, which may include booster shots, among other things, amid the presence of variants. 

— With reports from Alvin Elchico and Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

 WATCH

Watch more on iWantTFC