Video courtesy of Department of Health
MANILA — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority on Thursday said that local government units in Metro Manila have the capacity to vaccinate up to 120,000 Filipinos per day if there were enough vaccines and everyone is allowed to be inoculated.
“In NCR alone, we can do at least 120,000 vaccinations per day,” said MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia during a virtual briefing with the Department of Health.
To reach herd immunity, the government plans to cover 70% of the population. This includes around 10 million in Metro Manila, Garcia said.
“Siguro in 4 months kaya nating tapusin ang 1st dose, kasunod ang 2nd dose,” he said of the target.
(Perhaps in 4 months we can finish with the first dose, followed by the 2nd dose.
But Garcia explained that the 120,000 daily vaccinations can only be achieved once there are enough vaccines.
He said focusing on the priority sectors of health workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities also limits vaccinations.
“Kasi konti lang itong group na ito,” he said. “Paano mo hahanapin 'yung priorities? Sabi ko nga 'yung mga priorities nagpapalista 'yan. 'Yung iba ayaw magpalista kasi naghahanap ng brand na gusto nila.”
(This group is small. How will you look for the priority sectors? They have to sign up. And some of them don’t even want to sign up because they’re looking for the brand that they prefer.)
SINOVAC FOR SENIORS
He said this is why the MMDA also welcomes the decision of the Food and Drug Administration to allow senior citizens or those 60 years old and above to receive Sinovac vaccines.
“Madami tayong seniors gustong magpabakuna rin. Ang problema nga limited ang supply ng Astra[Zeneca] at paubos na,” he said.
(We have many seniors who want to get vaccinated. The problem is that the supply of AstraZeneca vaccines is running out.)
While there are two vaccine brands in the Philippines right now, before this week, only AstraZeneca was allowed for senior citizen use.
Sinovac was limited to adults aged 18 to 59 because of lack of data on its efficacy for seniors. This was reversed due to the increasing number of cases in the country and the vaccine shortage.
Of the 2.5 million vaccines that arrived in the Philippines since last month, only 525,000 are AstraZeneca doses. The rest are from Sinovac. The next shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine was also further delayed due to the global supply shortage.
A tentative date for the use of Sinovac vaccines for the elderly is on April 12, after guidelines are released by the Department of Health.
Garcia explained that the government had allowed simultaneous vaccination of health workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities because they were running out of AstraZeneca vaccines for the elderly.
He said the new FDA decision would allow them to continue vaccinating those 60 years old and above.
Garcia is optimistic that more vaccines will arrive during the 3rd quarter of the year as reported by vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
The government has been criticized for the slow rollout of coronavirus vaccines. Of the 2.5 million vaccines in the country, less than 1 million have been administered despite a month-long distribution.
Government data also showed that from an average of almost 33,000 vaccinations daily last month, the Philippines was only able to vaccinate almost 23,000 people daily for the last week.
Garcia attributed this to the limited number of people wanting to get vaccinated and scarce vaccine supply.
As the country struggles to increase its vaccination reach, Metro Manila and nearby provinces continue to register high numbers of COVID-19. cases.