MANILA— The Philippines' supply of COVID-19 shots from US-based Pfizer-BioNTech through the vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility will go to indigent Filipinos, Malacañang said on Thursday.
The country has taken delivery of 193,000 Pfizer jabs from the United Nations-led COVAX. Palace spokesman Harry Roque said authorities expected to get 2.2 million more COVID-19 shots this May.
"Ipinag-utos din po ng Pangulo na ibigay ang Pfizer sa mga mahihirap or sa indigent population dahil ‘yan po ang patakaran ng COVAX," Roque said in a press briefing.
(The President ordered Pfizer to be given to the poor or the indigent population because that's the policy of COVAX.)
The country's about 16 million people belong to "A5," the fifth priority group in the Philippine vaccination program.
COVAX supplies vaccines to the poor and the top 3 priority groups, namely health workers, the elderly, and people with health risks. Essential workers or "A4," the fourth priority group, is not part of the COVAX allocation, Roque said in a press briefing.
"Dagdag ni Presidente, ilagay ang Pfizer hindi sa mga mall, kundi sa vaccination sites ng mga barangay kung saan mababa ang takeup ng vaccines," he said.
(The President also added that Pfizer should not be distributed in malls, but rather, the vaccination sites of barangays where the uptake of vaccines is low.)
Vaccine "czar" Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the vaccination of the A4 and A5 groups might start "after" May or when the supply of jabs becomes "steady."
"Ipagsasabay lang natin kasi ang naging consensus na talaga at ang naging utos na rin ng Presidente, talagang palawakin na natin iyong puwedeng bakunahan dahil marami talaga ang gustong mabakuna[han] at naiinip nga dahil hindi pa kanilang turn," Roque said.
(We will do it simultaneously because that was the consensus and order of the President, to widen the bracket of those who can get vaccinated because many want to be inoculated and are getting bored waiting for their turn.)
The Philippines has received about 8.279 million COVID-19 shots, of which at least 3,299,470 doses have been administered as of May 18.
"Asahan natin na tataas pa ito habang ang kumpiyansa sa bakuna ay tumataas din," said Roque.
(Let us expect this will continue increasing while confidence in the vaccine rises.)
Authorities expect to get 1.3 million more COVID-19 shots from Russia's Gamaleya Institute this May, he said.