MANILA — Newly appointed Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa on Thursday said the Philippines is exhausting efforts to obtain additional supplies of COVID-19 bivalent vaccines.
Herbosa, who was formally sworn in as Department of Health (DOH) chief this week, said the government was coordinating with the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVAX facility, and UNICEF to get more bivalent vaccines.
"Tuloy-tuloy ang pag-effort para ma-access natin ang ating mga bagong bivalent vaccine ng COVID na kasama na ang subvariant," Herbosa said in a public briefing.
He also said he was coordinating with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to increase the benefits and salaries of healthcare workers in the country in an effort to reduce brain drain.
Last weekend, the Philippines received its first batch of 400,000 bivalent vaccines against the coronavirus, donated by the Lithuanian government.
"This will give us the complete immunization especially for our COVID-19. Naramdaman natin talaga itong effect nitong COVID vaccine so kailangan natin silang i-encourage," DOH Assistant Secretary Leonita Gorgolon said last Saturday.
Herbosa had earlier noted that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered him to draft a COVID-19 exit plan for the Philippines, as well as strategies to address the country's tuberculosis and HIV cases.
During the height of the pandemic, Herbosa was an adviser for the National Task Force Against COVID-19 under the Duterte administration.
He is the first health secretary of the Marcos Jr. administration, whose appointment ended a yearlong vacancy of the post since Marcos took office last June.