MANILA — The Philippine government eyes vaccinating the general public against COVID-19 by April or May to eventually "eliminate" the disease in 2022, an official leading the inoculation strategy said on Tuesday.
With only about 1.1 million COVID-19 shots so far, the vaccination drive that started on March 1 has prioritized the country's 1.7 million health workers.
The Philippines is expected to get 1.4 million more doses from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech this month, and 900,000 shots from vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility in May or April, said Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
By then, the country will have around 3.4 million vaccine doses which which are enough to cover health care workers, said Galvez.
"Nakikita po natin by that time, late April or early May, magkakaroon na tayo ng tinatawag nating general public vaccinations to be held by the LGUs (local government units)," he said in a press briefing.
(We see that by that time, late April or early May, we will have general public vaccinations to be held by the LGUs.)
Battling a recent surge of COVID-19 cases, the Philippines aims to vaccinate up to 70 million people or two-thirds of its population this year.
"Iyong 2021, ito ang gagawin nating containment process po ito. Ibig sabihin, makakuha tayo ng herd immunity," said Galvez. "But sa 2022, the government will be looking [at] the elimination of COVID."
(In 2021, what we will do is the containment process. This means getting herd immunity. But in 2022, the government will be looking on the elimination of COVID.)
With this goal in mind, the government is looking for a "a one-time, big-time booster," said Galvez. Booster doses are given to vaccinated people to restore waning immunity to a disease, according to the World Health Organization.
"We will work with the different manufacturing companies on how to eliminate the disease by 2022," Galvez said.
Video courtesy of PTV