MANILA - The government is extending until Friday the inoculation of the elderly against COVID-19 under the fourth run of the national vaccination days (NVDs), an official said Tuesday.
Vaccination of the general population for first doses and booster shots was also extended until Tuesday morning, according to Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, head of the National Vaccination Operations Center.
The fourth run of the Bayanihan Bakunahan Program was originally scheduled from March 10 to 12 only.
"Pinagbigyan natin ang hiling ng ibang rehiyon at LGUs na ituloy ang bakunahan hanggang ngayong umaga Tuesday para sa general population," Cabotaje said in a televised briefing.
(We granted the request of some regions and LGUs to extend the vaccination for the general population until this morning.)
"Magrere-strategize sila ngayon at kahapon para mapaigting ang A2 (elderly). Ang A2, i-extend natin hanggang Biyernes," she added.
(They will also re-strategize now and tomorrow to ramp up the vaccination of the elderly. The vaccination of the A2 sector is extended until Friday.)
The government has administered 1.4 million doses out of its target 1.8 million jabs for the fourth Bayanihan Bakunahan, as of Monday, Cabotaje said.
"Ang ilan kasi, nag-aatubili sila magpabakuna dahil sa edad nila, 'di na kailangan kasi pababa na at mababa na ang mga kaso," she Cabotaje.
(Some are hesitant to get vaccinated because of their age. Some think it's unnecessary anymore because the cases are already declining.)
"Aside from nag-aatubili, there is complacency and there’s hesitancy. May konting pag-ulan. Di nakalabas ang magbabakuna at yung magpababakuna. In some areas, there were flooding during Friday and Saturday."
(Aside from hesitancy, there is complacency. It also rained, some of the vaccinators and vaccinees were unable to attend.)
The National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard showed that as of March 9, some 6.48 million people aged 60 and above have been fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease, while more than 5.15 million others have received their first dose.
More than 1.87 million booster doses have also been administered to the sector.
Rajendra Yadav, acting WHO Representative to the Philippines, recently underscored the need to focus on vaccinating some. 2.4 million older adults who, according to him, have not yet received even a single shot.
"Vaccinating the elderly must be an absolute priority as they are at high risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19. Other high-risk groups include healthcare workers, other essential frontline workers, immunocompromised individuals, and people with comorbidities," Yadav and Sangjun Moon, also of WHO Philippines, said in a statement last March 11.
"Until every priority group is protected, no community is safe," they said, adding it is also among the measures that will help the country prepare for another COVID-19 wave.
The latest nationwide vaccination drive might be the final run, Cabotaje said.
"Baka di na tayo magkaroon ng NVDs, mas focused na sa mga probinsiyang kailangan ng tulong," she said.
(We might not conduct NVDs anymore. Instead, we will just be focused on provinces that need help.)
More than 64.5 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as of March 13, the Department of Health said on Monday.
Over 11.1 million booster doses in total have also been administered.
Video courtesy of PTV
ALERT LEVEL 0?
Metro Manila still needs to increase the number of individuals with booster shots even as it might be "ready to go to Alert Level 0," Cabotaje said.
"I think they will be ready to go to Alert Level 0, pero kailangan pa rin natin ituloy-tuloy makamit ang mataas na (numero ng) booster shots sa NCR (National Capital Region)," she said.
(I think they will be ready to go to Alert Level 0, but we still need to achieve a higher number of booster shots in NCR.)
More than 3.48 million booster doses have been administered in Metro Manila as of March 8, according to latest data posted on the vaccination dashboard. The number of people who are fully vaccinated in the region stood at 9.6 million.
The NCR is home to more than 13 million people and accounts for about a third of the country's gross domestic product.
"Ang aming tutok ay sana, ang main cities makaabot ng Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1. Ang ibang provinces, yun din ang aming tututukan para bumaba din ang mga kaso nila at mapataas ang coverage," said Cabotaje.
(We want to focus on main cities so they can deescalate from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1. We want to focus on provinces so their cases will decline and their vaccine coverage will rise.)
The mandatory use of face masks can possibly be removed, but good ventilation and physical distancing from non-members of the family must still be observed, Cabotaje said.
The "slow uptake" of COVID-19 jabs is a factor in why the Philippines would be donating some of its near expiry vaccines, according to Cabotaje.
"May slow uptake. Also, nagsabay-sabay ang (dating ng) ating bakuna. They gave us enough vaccine donations," she said.
(There was slow uptake, and the supply of our vaccines arrived consecutively.)
"Initially, 40 million ang nakalaan, umaabot na yan sa 70 million... We accepted the donation just in case 'di dumating ang supply (the supply does not arrive)."
(Initially 40 million doses were allotted to be donated to us, then it reached 70 million.)
The government is considering to donate COVID jabs of Gamaleya (Sputnik V) and Moderna, Cabotaje said.
Nearly 236 million doses of different COVID-19 vaccine brands have been delivered to the Philippines as of March 11, according to the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
As of March 9, some 137.35 million of those have been administered, the vaccination dashboard showed.