MANILA — The Philippines may get access to monkeypox vaccines by 2023, the Department of Health said Wednesday, amid rising demand for the jab.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the agency is coordinating with the private sector in procuring vaccines for the disease.
"Unfortunately, doon po sa mga pag-uusap, ang pinakamaagang deliveries kung sakaling makakabili tayo would still be 2023," she told ANC's "Headstart".
The DOH is exploring other avenues to acquire at least a minimal amount of monkeypox vaccines, which will be first given to healthcare workers, she added.
Three manufacturers of monkeypox vaccines have so far been identified by the agency.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plan to purchase the jabs as a whole is still at initial stages, Vergeire said.
"With this Asean, it is still on the stage of exploratory meetings and then the whole Asean membership, these 10 countries, will be procuring as one so that we can have stocks for all of these countries. But at the initial stage pa lang po iyon," she added.
More than 16,000 confirmed cases have been recorded in 75 countries so far this year, according to the World Health Organization. The Philippines confirmed its first case on July 29.
Vergeire said the patient had since recovered from the disease, discharged from isolation and allowed to interact with other people.
Monkeypox has long been endemic in Central and Western Africa but there have been outbreaks across the world since May.
Majority of the cases globally, Vergeire said, were spread via close contact through sexual activity. Other routes include direct contact or by touching objects or fabrics used by someone who is infected.
"Just to clarify, gusto ho natin sabihin sa ating mga kababayan, kahit sino po maaaring magkaroon ng monkeypox," Vergeire said.
"Hindi lang po isang sector ng lipunan ang puwedeng magkaroon nito dahil iba-iba po ang kaniyang pagsalin o pagkakahawa sa ibang tao."
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