MANILA — The Philippines has started its vaccination program with jabs from Beijing-based drug maker Sinovac Biotech on Monday, in hopes of an immediate return to normalcy as the country races to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
This year, the country aims to inoculate 70 million of its 108 million people to achieve herd immunity and reopen an economy that in 2020 saw its worst contraction on record, due largely to tight restrictions on movement in place since mid-March.
Here's what you need to know about the vaccination program in the Philippines:
- What vaccines are available?
There are currently 600,000 jabs of the China-made Sinovac vaccine in the country and officials are expecting 1 million more doses this March after securing 25 million from the company.
More than 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine is also expected to arrive in the country within the month.
World Health Organization Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe earlier confirmed that around 5.5 million to 9.2 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, which the Philippine drug regulator already approved for emergency use, have been earmarked for the country.
Some local chief executives in Metro Manila and in the provinces also bared their respective COVID-19 vaccination plans with the said vaccine.
Meanwhile, a hold-up in the processing of some documents has pushed back the arrival of US-based Pfizer's coronavirus shots in the Philippines.
American company Moderna supply won’t be available in the Philippines until the middle of this year.
Authorities earlier approved a priority list for the government's COVID-19 vaccination drive, with health workers on top of the list.
- A1: Frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc
- A2: Senior citizens aged 60 years old and above
- A3: Persons with comorbidities not otherwise included in the preceding categories
- A4: Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ
- A5: Indigent population not otherwise included in the preceding categories
- B1: Teachers, Social Workers
- B2: Other Government Workers
- B3: Other essential workers
- B4: Socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people
- B5: Overseas Filipino Workers
- B6: Other Remaining Workforce
- C: Rest of the Filipino population not otherwise included in the above groups
These 4 referral hospitals, which tend to patients with COVID-19, will be prioritized in the inoculation.
- Philippine General Hospital in Manila
- Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City
- East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City
- Dr. Jose Natalio Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center in Caloocan City
- Vaccine distribution
From the manufacturers’ factories overseas, the vaccines will be kept in dry ice coolers or freezers while being transported to their destination countries. From the airport, the cargo must then be cleared by the Bureau of Customs before they are brought to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
From the RITM, the vaccines will then be moved to regional warehouses and from there, they will again be to transported to local government units (LGUs).
It will then be the responsibility of the LGUs to allocate the vaccines to hospitals and vaccination sites where the vaccines will be administered.
— reports from Jamaine Punzalan and Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News