MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines on Thursday launched COVID-19 booster vaccination in select drugstores in Metro Manila a bid to ramp up efforts to reach herd immunity.
The government for now has allowed only booster shots to be administered in pharmacies to healthcare workers, their family members, essential workers, and the indigent population, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
"Sa una lang, at least yung mababakunahan ng botika meron nang patunay na okay na yun kanilang first and second dose," he told reporters following a symbolic vaccination in Mercury Drug Malate branch, Manila.
(This is for the initial implementation so the drugstores know the vaccinees' first and second dose were okay.)
"Mas kombiniyente, mas madali para sa kanila (publiko). Puwede ka magparehistro online para pagdating mo d'yan, pwede ka nang bakunahan nang walang aberya."
(It's more convenient and easier for the public. You can register online and when you go to the drugstore, you can get vaccinated without difficulty.)
Individuals must bring their original vaccination card and an identification card on the day of their inoculation, the DOH said.
Five pharmacies will participate in the pilot implementation of the program:
- Generika in Signal Village, Taguig
- Mercury Drug in President Quirino Avenue, Manila
- SouthStar in Barangay Concepcion-Uno, Marikina
- The Generics Pharmacy in Sun Valley, Parañaque
- Watsons SM Supercenter in Ortigas, Pasig
Following a week-long pilot run, the program dubbed “Resbakuna sa mga Botika” would be expanded to other drugstores across the country, said Vince Dizon, Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 response.
"'Yung kanilang ibang branch ay gagawin din ito sa mas malaking bahagi ng Kamaynilaan, at karatig-rehiyon. Kinakailangan pa rin may tamang sukat yung lugar kung saan isasagawa ang bakuna sa botika," Duque said.
(This will be expanded to other branches in Metro Manila and nearby regions. The area should be big enough for the vaccination.)
"Dapat may sapat na espasyo para ang health and safety protocols mapag-iibayo pa rin. Alam lang natin libo-libo (ang mga branch) at sasamantalahin natin ang kanilang presensiya."
(There should be enough space so that health and safety protocols are observed. We know there are thousands of drugstore branches, and we will take advantage of their existence.)
The vaccination program was also launched in other parts of the capital region, with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing, and Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro attending the symbolic vaccination in SouthStar Drug in Marikina, and Dizon visiting Taguig City.
Pharmacies will coordinate with local governments which will handle the registration and documentation for the program, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said.
The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 56 million individuals, while 59.2 million others have received an initial dose, according to Department of Health data. Some 5.3 million booster shots have also been administered, as of Tuesday.
--With a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News