MANILA (UPDATED)— The government is studying the possible COVID-19 vaccination of the 12 to 17 age group by the middle of October, an official said on Wednesday, as coronavirus infections hit more children.
The Philippines has about 23.75 million COVID-19 shots on hand and around 20 million more jabs are set to arrive until the first week of October, according to vaccine "czar" Carlito Galvez Jr.
To use up these shots, authorities need to administer some 800,000 vaccine doses a day. On the average, 400,000 to 500,000 shots are given daily, Galvez said in a taped meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.
"We are experiencing saturation point in NCR and other cities. Meaning, parang nagmi-meet na po, sir, 'yong demand at saka 'yung supply; meaning, kailangan na po nating mag-open ng other sectors," he told the President.
(We are experiencing saturation point in NCR and other cities, meaning the demand and supply appear to be meeting, and meaning, we need to open the vaccination to other sectors.)
"We are proposing, Mr. President, to open up the vaccination for children by mid of October," added Galvez, who also serves as chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
The vaccine supply, he said, would be enough to cover some 12 million children between 12 and 17 years old.
"Pero ang recommendation po natin, mauna muna po 'yung mga may comorbidities at saka po 'yung mga anak po ng mga healthcare workers," Galvez said.
(But our recommendation is to prioritize those with comorbidities and the children of healthcare workers.)
VACCINATION IN REGIONS, ELDERLY
In a statement, the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 said localities nationwide are also boosting their vaccination program amid the threat of the Delta variant.
Six regions, the task force noted, have been able to fully vaccinate 20 percent of their eligible residents.
This included the following:
- Cordillera Administrative Region - 27.20 percent
- Zamboanga Del Norte - 23.28 percent
- Calabarzon - 22.80 percent
- Central Visayas - 21.31 percent
- Central Luzon - 20.57 percent
- Caraga - 20.18 percent
In the capital region, 69.16 percent or at least 6.76 million of the target 9.76 million population are already fully vaccinated from the disease, data collated by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.
Meanwhile, vaccine hesitancy among the elderly remained high, according to Galvez "particularly in far-flung, densely populated areas."
This is also why the government aimed to have younger people inoculated from the virus, "as this move will increase the number of vaccinated individuals per household."
“Ito yung tinatawag nating family approach. So, ang strategy po na nire-recommend ng mga private sector is 'yung tinatawag na bandwagon effect na pagka pami-pamilya na po ang nagpapabakuna, ang nangyayari po, iyong iba pong mga pamilya na hindi pa nagpapabakuna ay magpapabakuna na rin po,” he said.
(This is what we call the family approach. The strategy that the private sector is recommending is called the bandwagon effect, where, family who are unvaccinated from the disease gets vaccinated after seeing their family members immunized.)
The Philippine drug regulator has cleared the COVID-19 vaccines of Moderna and Pfizer for children aged 12 and up.
The Philippines is fighting one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks, with infections crossing 2.4 million on Tuesday and overall deaths topping 37,000.
Government aims to inoculate 70 percent of the country's 109 people before the year ends to achieve herd immunity and safely reopen the economy. At least 19 million people have been fully vaccinated so far.