MANILA — The government eyes tapping the private sector for a simultaneous COVID-19 vaccination drive by May to cover more people at a quicker pace.
Without the private sector, government can only complete the vaccination of 50 to 60 million people this year, short of the 70-million target to achieve herd immunity, said Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
"Kung magkakaroon na po tayo ng tinatawag na supply coming from the private sector, pwede na po silang magsimula sa May. Magkakaroon na po tayo ng simultaneous rollout," he said in a press briefing.
(If we get supply from the private sector, they can start in May. We will have a simultaneous rollout.)
"Ang maganda po, iyong 10 million people ay ibigay po natin sa private sector, which is basically iyon ang mga essential worker po nila," added Galvez, who is also the country's vaccine "czar."
(What's good is we will let the private sector vaccinate 10 million people, who are basically their essential workers.)
The simultaneous inoculation drive would tap all of the country's around 55,000 vaccinators, only about a quarter of whom are on active duty, he said.
Galvez said he would present this plan to the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) on Wednesday.
At least 408,995 medical frontliners have been vaccinated. They represent 24 percent of the country's around 1.7 million health workers, Galvez said.
The country so far has received 1,125,600 COVID-19 shots, including 600,000 China-donated shots from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech and 525,600 jabs of Britain's AstraZeneca vaccine secured with the help of the COVAX Facility.
Authorities expect to receive 2.3 million more vaccine doses this March, said Galvez.
These include 400,000 Sinovac shots, which will be delivered on Wednesday, 979,200 COVAX jabs that might arrive between March 22 and 26, and another 1 million Sinovac doses on March 29, he added.
The elderly, indigents, and vulnerable sectors who may develop severe COVID-19 symptoms, and economic frontliners are next in line to get jabs, the official earlier said.
“Most likely ang makita natin sa massive vaccination natin, mangyayari ngayong May,” Galvez said last week.
(Most likely, we'll see our massive vaccination in May.)
Battling a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Philippines this year aims to vaccinate 70 million people or two-thirds of its population against the respiratory disease.