MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said public schools can serve as vaccination centers when the government finally rolls out its mass inoculation program against COVID-19.
Duterte said in a public briefing that local government officials can use public schools in urban areas to accommodate immunization programs if there are no suitable venues like gymnasiums.
"Wala pa namang klase," he said. "If there is no malaking mga coliseum or gym, then we will utilize the schools."
(There are no classes yet. If there is no large coliseum or gym, then we will utilize the schools.)
He also reiterated his earlier order that police stations and military camps can serve as vaccination centers in far-flung areas.
Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., a retired general, meanwhile said military hospitals will also support the inoculation program as health workers and their families will be vaccinated there, along with defense and military personnel and their kin.
"Nag-usap na po kami ng military na talagang magagamit 'yung military hospital," he said.
(The military told me military hospitals will be certainly utilized.)
Galvez noted rehearsals and simulations of local government units for the vaccination rollout has been satisfactory, expressing his optimism for the country's inoculation program.
Malacañang earlier said the Philippines is ready to launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive next week.
Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines' first COVID-19 jabs will arrive in "mid-February" from the COVAX Facility, an initiative which seeks to ensure equitable access to the drug.
When asked to clarify if the vaccination would start on Feb. 15, Roque said, "If it (vaccine batch) arrives--and we only need a day or 2 naman to start the vaccination, we will proceed."
Nearly 539,000 people have already been infected in the country as the health department reported 1,690 additional COVID-19 cases on Monday.
The total number of fatalities in the Philippines rose by 52 to 11,231, while total recoveries reached 499,772. Active cases are at 27,992.