MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines this week will begin tapping drugstores and clinics as COVID-19 vaccination sites for booster shots, officials said, as coronavirus infections hovered at record highs.
Vince Dizon, Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 response, said infections among vaccination staff prompted authorities to seek the help of pharmacies and clinics, which “responded immediately to the call of the national government."
The following 7 pharmacies will offer COVID-19 booster jabs beginning Thursday, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
- Healthway Manila clinic
- Mercury Drug Malate, Pres. Quirino Ave.
- South Star SSD Marikina
- Watsons, SM Supercenter Pasig
- Generika Drugstore Signal 1 in Taguig
- The Generics Pharmacy, Parañaque
- Qualimed Clinic, McKinley Road in Makati
Local governments will still handle the registration and documentation for the program, while drugstores and clinics will head the actual inoculation, Nograles said in a press briefing.
Following a week-long pilot run, the program dubbed “Resbakuna sa mga Botika” would be expanded to other drugstores across the country, Dizon said in a taped meeting with officials that aired on Tuesday.
“This will greatly assist po our local government units and the DOH para po dagdag po itong mga personnel para magbabakuna,” said Dizon.
“At the same time po, madi-decentralize pa po natin more iyong ating bakunahan. Instead of just being focused on the big vaccination sites… we will have smaller but more widely spread vaccination sites in the form of our botikas (drugstores),” he continued.
(This will greatly assist po our local government units and the DOH with additional personnel for vaccination. At the same time, we will decentralize our inoculation further.)
President Rodrigo Duterte, who presided over the meeting, replied,
“Maganda ‘yan (that’s good), expedient.”
Walk-in vaccination is available for individuals aged 18 years old and above, except for senior citizens and persons with comorbidities, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
Daily coronavirus infections have hit record highs several times this month, driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, prompting a tightening of mobility curbs. On Monday, the Philippines started a ban on unvaccinated people from public transport.
The country has recorded more than 3.24 million cases and nearly 53,000 deaths overall.
It has so far fully inoculated about half of its population, but many areas outside the capital region are lagging behind.
— With a report from Reuters