MANILA - The Philippines might miss its target of fully vaccinating against COVID-19 a total of 70 million people by the end of this month due to logistics concerns and vaccine hesitancy, an official said Tuesday.
Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 Response Sec. Vince Dizon said the target could instead be achieved by April.
Over 65.1 million individuals have so far been fully vaccinated in the country.
“Tingin ko, kung end of March, dahil next week na ‘yun, hindi siguro. Pero I’m confident na within the month of April, maaabot na natin ang 70 million fully vaccinated,” Dizon said.
(If by the end of March, which is already that's next week, I think not. But I'm confident that within the month April, we can reach 70 million fully vaccinated.)
"Dahil mas malalayo na ang mga kababayan natin, kailangan talaga pupuntahan na natin sila. That is the major challenge right now. And of course, ‘yun ding hesitancy. Umaabot na tayo doon sa punto na marami na tayong mga napupuntahan na ayaw nang magpabakuna,” he added.
(Because the people we need to vaccinate now are those in remote areas, we really need to physically reach them. That is the major challenge right now. And of course, there's the vaccine hesitancy. We have a reached a point where we've met a lot of people who don't want to be vaccinated.)
The National Task Force against COVID-19 is eyeing to hold a special COVID vaccination in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao before March ends.
Data show that the region has yet to vaccinate at least half of its target.
Other areas to be prioritized for special vaccination are Region 12, and parts of Regions 11, and 7, where the fully vaccinated population is at less than 70 percent of the target, according to Dizon.
He said the objective is to get more areas deescalated to Alert Level 1, the lowest in the five-tier alert system.
The NTF plans to send additional manpower and logistical support to areas that will hold special vaccination days.
DIzon said most of the cities in the country already have above 80 percent vaccination rate.
The Philippines rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination program on March 1, 2021, more than a year since the the pandemic reached the country.
According to the COVID-19 tracker of the Department of Health, the country's total COVID-19 cases stood at 3,674,983, as of Tuesday, of which, 44,764 are active.
Officials have said that vaccination prevents severe and critical COVID-19 cases.