MANILA - It would be impossible for the Philippines to achieve this year the government's high-end target of fully vaccinating against the coronavirus 70 percent of the country's population, an official from the Department of Health (DOH) said.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje told ABS-CBN News that the said target, covering some 77.1 million people, may only be reached in the first quarter of 2022.
"At least 50 percent ang ita-target natin na fully vaccinated by the end of the year," Cabotaje said.
(We are targeting to fully vaccinate at least 50 percent of the population by the end of the year.)
On Monday night, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. also told President Rodrigo Duterte in a meeting that "more or less 50 percent" of the population may be vaccinated already by the end of December.
Asked when the government could achieve the 70 percent high-end target, Cabotaje said: "By first quarter of next year."
The 50 percent target, according to the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, represents the "low" threshold, but the "high target" remained at 70 percent.
Officials previously said that the government aims to fully vaccinate between 50 to 70 million people this year to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19. The vaccination rollout began last March 1.
As of Monday, the country has so far fully immunized 25.95 million individuals, while nearly 30.3 million are partially vaccinated, data from the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.
The number of fully vaccinated individuals represents 33.65 percent of the target 77.1 million, the researchers pointed out.
Metro Manila led the regions as far as having the most number of fully immunized individuals, with 8,387,179 people or 85.79 percent of the target in the area, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said earlier in the day.
At the meeting presided by Duterte, Galvez also said pediatric vaccination is targeted for completion by the end of the year.
There are 12.7 million in the 12-17 age group who are also already eligible already to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the NTF. This month, the government prioritized the inoculation of members of the said group who have health risks.
"Ang ano po namin talaga, matapos po yung children vaccination by December kasi magkakahalo-halo na po ang vaccination natin sa 3rd dose at 1st dose," Galvez said.
(We aim to finish the children's vaccination by December because the vaccination for 3rd dose and 1st dose will be ongoing by then.)
"Kasi inopen na po ng NITAG at All-Experts Group na magkakaroon na tayo ng vaccination, 3rd dose, para sa ating mga health workers at mga immunocompromised," he added.
(The NITAG and All-Expert's Group have already approved the administration of a 3rd dose for our health workers and immunocompromised people.)
The country has received a total of 97.6 million doses of different COVID-19 vaccine brands, of which, 55.7 million have already been administered.
Galvez said the goal of receiving 100 million doses of vaccine this month may be reached as additional shipments courtesy of the COVAX facility and some donor countries may arrive later this week.
"Baka magkakaroon na po tayo ng more than 100 million na vaccine. At ‘yun po ay ise-celebrate po natin dahil kasi ibig pong sabihin no’n, 50 million po ang mababakunahan na natin before the end of the year," he said in the meeting presided by Duterte.
(We may reach more than 100 million doses of vaccine already. And we will celebrate that because it would mean that we can already vaccinate 50 million people before the end of the year.)
The Philippines has recorded a total of 2,765,672 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Tuesday, of which, 53,642 or 1.9 percent were active, according to the DOH.
An independent research group said the decline in new infections over the past few weeks is due to the wide vaccination coverage in the country.