MANILA - Hundreds of elderly Filipinos trooped to a Parañaque City mall on Monday as the local government began its inoculation with Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, alarming officials "over the obvious lack of social distancing."
"Medyo mataas ang enthusiasts sa mga kababayaan namin ngayon to get vaccinated, maraming nagbabakasali," Parañaque public information officer Mar Jimenez told ABS-CBN News.
(Our constituents are highly enthusiastic to get vaccinated, many thought they could get a chance if they walk in.)
"Medyo mataas lang po talaga ang expectation ng tao kasi first launching ng Pfizer. Ang mga bakuna naman pareparehas na magaling yan."
(People's expectations were high because this is our first launching of Pfizer. All vaccines work well.)
While it noted that the swarming of people "underscores the vaccine enthusiasm", the National Task Force Against COVID-19 expressed "concern over the obvious lack of social distancing by" those who went to the mall.
The task force acknowledged though the action taken by the city government to address the crowding.
Parañaque mayor Edwin Olivarez had earlier said the city will accommodate only those who pre-registered online after crowds also swarmed early this month a vaccination site during the launching of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.
Those who registered online will receive a text message confirming the date, hour, and venue of their vaccination, Jimenez said.
"Sinasabi po natin, lahat po kayo entitled kung talaga kayo’y nagpa-register. Meron po scheduling iyan," he said.
(What we're saying is everyone is entitled to the vaccine if they really registered. There's a scheduling.)
The crowd at the Parañaque mall was dispersed before noon, said Jimenez.
The task force said it "will work closely to support our local government units even as we call on our local chief executives to ensure that our Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategies are implemented consistently and that timely announcement and dissemination of vaccine information and education be communicated accordingly."