Over 193,000 get first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in first 13 days of inoculation in PH - DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2021 01:10 PM | Updated as of Mar 15 2021 06:19 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) — More than 193,000 Filipinos, mostly health workers, have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine during the first 13 days of the Philippines' inoculation drive against the coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

“So far, we have administered a total of 193,492 doses in the country. And 90% of our stocks have already been distributed to the vaccination sites,” Dr. Beverly Ho, Director of the Health Promotion Bureau and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, said during a virtual briefing.

The data, which are as of 6 p.m. of March 13, Saturday, show an increase of nearly 79,000 from March 10 when the DOH last made an update on the vaccination. The vaccine rollout began March 1.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire previously said there are over 1 million health workers in the government's vaccination priority list.

So far, 1,125,600 million vaccine doses have arrived in the country, according to Ho.

These are from Sinovac and AstraZeneca, two of the three vaccine developers that have received emergency use authorization in the Philippines. The other company is Pfizer but the delivery of its product, which will come from the vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX Facility, has been delayed.

Ho said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will be presenting to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday afternoon the details of the country’s vaccine deployment and inoculation.

The country aims to vaccinate up to 70 million Filipinos before the year ends in order to reach herd immunity. However, officials said supply problems have made it harder for some countries like the Philippines to bring in more vaccines.

Galvez, the country's vaccine czar, said Sunday that the government is "on track" to achieve its target of vaccinating 70 percent of the country's population against COVID-19 this year, as he denied the slow pace of the immunization program.

He said the pace of the inoculation drive would pick up when the bulk of vaccines arrive.

Last week, Duque said that the initial rollout of the country's COVID-19 vaccination program is "not as quick" as what the government had wanted.

The Philippines this week will launch its COVID-19 vaccine tracker, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing, without giving additional details. 

Meanwhile, asked how many experienced adverse events after receiving the vaccine, Ho said, “Currently, what we can inform you is that our adverse events are still manageable.”

She said the DOH will release the data on Wednesday.

Ho assured the public that such adverse events or side effects are being reported to health facilities.

“They (patients) are monitored and the symptoms are resolving. The people are able to recover and go home,” she said.

Last Friday, the DOH said only a small percentage of vaccine recipients experienced side effects. Most of them were reportedly minor, such as body pain, fever and rashes.

Only 20 cases were considered serious, including difficulty of breathing and chest pains, and those have been resolved.

The DOH said their experts are still investigating whether the said events are caused by the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Philippines has recorded a total of 621,498 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Sunday, of which, 48,157 are active infections. The country's new daily cases have spiked in recent weeks, particularly in Metro Manila, prompting officials to impose localized lockdowns and other measures to curb the spread of the disease.

- with report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News