MANILA — The Philippines has administered some 13 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Department of Health said on Monday, more than four months since its inoculation drive kicked off.
Of the total 13,196,282 vaccine doses administered, some 9.6 million first doses were first jabs, while around 3.5 million were second shots, said Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje.
Authorities have said that those who have received their second shot of a 2-dose regimen vaccine brand are considered fully vaccinated.
Around 96 percent of about 1.6 million health workers, the top priority in the country's immunization drive, have received at least one vaccine dose, Cabotaje said in a televised public briefing.
Meanwhile, about 31 percent of 8 million target senior citizens, the second priority group, have received at least one COVID-19 shot, Cabotaje added.
To encourage more elderly people to get vaccinated, authorities are hosting town hall meetings, setting up special lanes for them, and offering house-to-house inoculation, said the health official.
The elderly and the third priority group- people with comorbidities - will be prioritized in the distribution of the single-dose J&J vaccine, Cabotaje said.
The Philippines expects to receive on July 19 its first J&J vaccine batch, donated by the United States through vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility, she said.
"One dose lang ito, so very convenient sa ating mga senior citizen at mga iba nating kababayan na nasa malalayong lugar," said Cabotaje.
(This is just one dose, so it's very convenient for our senior citizens and our other compatriots in far-flung areas.)
Authorities, she said, were in talks with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and other partners to build a vaccine depot for the Bangsamoro region, which has among the lowest immunization coverage rates.
The government would focus on the vaccination in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces because of their "porous borders" with Malaysia and Indonesia, which have detected the more infectious Delta COVID-19 variant, she said.
With some 1.4 million coronavirus coronavirus infections, the second highest in Southeast Asia, the Philippines aims to vaccinate 58 to 70 million of its 109 population against COVID-19 to safely reopen the economy.
Video courtesy of PTV