MANILA— The Philippines on Wednesday received 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Australian government.
This is the first batch of the 3.6 million total COVID-19 vaccine doses to be sent by Australia to the Philippines. A portion of these jabs will be coursed through UNICEF.
“Probably in the first quarter of next year, there’ll be additional doses to take it up to 2.2 million doses and 1.4 million doses on top of that through UNICEF from us,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said most of the vaccines will be used in the three-day national COVID-19 vaccination drive starting Nov. 29 as the first dose, second dose, or booster shots.
He clarified that booster vaccinations of health workers, senior citizens, and immunocompromised individuals will still push through that day.
“’Yung recommendation natin sa (what we recommend to) LGUs, we dedicate a separate vaccination site for children's vaccination, one vaccination site for booster, and one vaccination site for the usual general population vaccination,” Galvez said.
“Para hindi magkamali. Iilan lang ang allowed na vaccine for children- Pfizer and Moderna. ‘Yung booster, para ‘yung accounting natin, it’s very easy to segregate,” he explained.
(This is to avoid mistakes. We only allow certain types of vaccines for children [which are] Pfizer and Moderna. Boosters, for our account, is very easy to segregate.)
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Australia's donation will greatly help the country supplement and add to its vaccine supply, now that booster vaccinations of certain sectors have started.
Around 135 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have arrived in the Philippines, with 77.5 million out of these already administered. Of the target 77 million Filipinos for vaccination, almost 34.2 million have been fully vaccinated, while 43.3 million have been vaccinated with the first dose.
Around 70,000 have been vaccinated with booster shots.
“This is substantial in the light of the fact that we are rolling out our booster policy and we’re very happy, we’re very gratified with the support that’s being provided to us by our neighbors in Australia,” Duque said.
“This is going to be distributed all over the country, but there will be priorities. The high-density cities where economic activity is huge, we are pushing for a more aggressive vaccine coverage in those areas, but no one is to be left behind,” he added.
— Report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News