MANILA (UPDATE) - Over half a million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in the Philippines on Sunday.
The latest shipment, which consisted of 547,100 jabs, was donated by the government of Poland.
According to the vaccine czar and National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the newly arrived batch will be allocated to local government units who will request additional doses after the vaccination drive scheduled on November 29 to December 1.
"Bibigay natin yan kahit sino may gusto (We will give it to anyone who wants to be vaccinated). It can be used as the first dose, second dose, or booster, flexible ang paggamit sa AstraZeneca,” he explained.
Officials aim to inoculate an additional 9 million Filipinos during the three-day immunization sprint.
Galvez stressed vaccination efforts must be scaled-up and sped up in light of the emergence of Omicron, a new variant of concern.
"Nakita natin sa ngayon na kailangan magmadali sa pag-vaccinate. Nakita natin na tumataas ang mga kaso sa Europe at other countries. And nakita natin na imminent yang, 'di maiiwasan yan, we can only delay,” he said.
(We have seen the need to speed up the vaccination. We saw an increase in the cases in Europe and other countries. And we know that is imminent, we cannot avoid but we can delay.)
"Pagka tinatamaan ang Europe (If it spreads in Europe), it will only take 2 months or less— so we have to prepare. Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.”
For now, only adults above 18 years old and children between ages 12-17 years old can be jabbed.
Galvez, however, said they are eyeing to immunize children aged 5-11 years old by the first quarter of 2022.
"Antayin lang natin ang emergency use authorization ng 5-11, nakalagay na sa timeline namin yan," he said.
(Let's just wait for the emergency use authorization for 5 to 11 year olds, that's included in our timeline.)
Based on the latest tally of the Department of Health and National Task Force Against COVID-19, 81,017,994 jabs have been administered.
As of this writing, at least 35,557,409 Filipinos have been fully-immunized, while 45,286,049 have been given at least one dose.
The government is targeting to inoculate 54 million individuals by the end of the year, and around 77 million or 70 percent of the population by the first quarter of 2022.
The Philippines had also recently started administering booster shots. So far, 174,536 individuals had been given the additional dose.
The government is targeting to fully vaccinate a total of 77,139,058 citizens, which account for 70 percent of the population, by the end of the year.
Galvez reminded Filipinos the much-needed vaccines are not only a preventive technology but a life-saving measure as well.
"Hanggang maaga pa, magpabakuna na kayo, Ang bakuna pwede tayo maligtas sa magiging severe o hospitalization. At the same time, possibility of death. I encourage everybody to get vaccinated as soon as possible," he said.
(As early as now, get vaccinated. The vaccine can save you from severe cases or hospitalization. At the same time, the possibility of death. I encourage everybody to get vaccinated as soon as possible.)
“This is our best gift to our family, our community, and to our country. Kailangan talaga natin ngayon, bakuna at discipline para mawala ang pandemic (What we need now are vaccines and discipline to get rid of this pandemic)," Galvez added.