MANILA - Only 6 percent of senior citizens in the Philippines have been vaccinated against COVID-19 about 2 months since the country began its inoculation program, a health official said Wednesday.
Of the 7.7 million senior citizens in the country, only 466,000 have been inoculated, said Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, chairperson of the National Vaccination Operations Center.
"Karamihan ng A2 (senior citizens) at A3 (persons with comorbidities), dito lang sa NCR (National Capital Region), Calabarzon at Region 3 kasi sila ang binuhusan natin ng bakuna," she told state television PTV.
(Most of the senior citizens and persons with comorbidities that were vaccinated are from the National Capital Region, Calabarzon and Region 3 because this is where we poured the vaccines.)
"Konting-konti lang po 'yung sa ibang region," she said.
(There were only few from other regions.)
Metro Manila and surrounding provinces have been under stricter quarantine status since after a surge in cases was seen in March, a year since the virus was first detected in the country.
The Department of Health (DOH) is coordinating with its regional offices to speed up the inoculation of senior citizens and other priority groups in other regions, Cabotaje said.
"Ang problema noon medyo walang vaccine na available so hesitant sila na mag-start," she said.
(Our problem before was there were no available vaccines so they were hesitant to begin the inoculation program.)
"Now that we have enough vaccines, I'm sure they will be happy to receive it especially sa areas na matataas [ang cases]," she said.
(Now that we have enough vaccines, I'm sure they will be happy to receive it especially in areas where the cases are high.)
Mayors in several localities such as Iloilo City and Cagayan de Oro City have been asking for more vaccines, the official said.
"They are needing more vaccines so I am sure they are adjusting their strategies para maibigay 'yung kaukulang (so that they can give the adequate) number of jabs within a shorter period," she said.
The DOH hopes to vaccinate at least 70,000 people per day with the recent arrival of more AstraZeneca and Sinovac jabs in the country.
Earlier this month, the Philippines' daily average of vaccinated individuals ranged between 30,000 and 60,000, according to data from the DOH.
The Philippines needs to consume some 2 million AstraZeneca jabs within the month until early June as these vaccines are expected to expire by next month or in July.