MANILA — At least 5 million people were vaccinated against COVID-19 in the first two days of a three-day campaign targeting to inoculate nine million Filipinos until Wednesday, the Department of Health said.
"Ang running total natin ay 5,000,353," DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said of the output so far of the "Bayanihan, Bakunahan" drive that started on Monday.
"We are still hopeful na ma-meet natin iyong 9 million target. But just in case we will be unable to reach it, this record is already high," she said in a televised public briefing.
(Our running total is 5,000,353. We are still hopeful that we will meet the 9 million target. But just in case we will be unable to reach it, this record is already high.)
Cabotaje noted the Philippines typically administered about 1 million to 1.5 million COVID-19 shots daily.
She said 2,708,018 vaccine doses were given on Monday, the first day of Bayanihan, Bakunahan.
At least 2,290,335 jabs meanwhile were administered the next day, which was a regular holiday for Bonifacio Day, based on reports as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, Cabotaje said. She said this figure is expected to increase as more data come in.
"May nagsasabi na nakatulong ang holiday kasi they were able to go to the vaccination sites. Pero may mga feedback din na they worked because it was double-pay," she said of Tuesday's vaccination output.
"And there were some problems because they were not accommodated during the vaccination time. May mga bakuna centers na nagsara nang mas maaga."
(Some say the holiday helped because they were able to go to the vaccination sites. But there are feedbacks that they worked because it was double-pay. And there were some problems because they were not accommodated during the vaccination time. There were vaccination centers that closed early.)
Carlito Galvez, the country's vaccination chief, said on Monday the new Omicron variant had made the campaign even more important.
Omicron, which the World Health Organization has described as a "variant of concern", has yet to be detected in the Philippines. Its spread has sparked global travel restrictions and rattled financial markets.
The Philippines has been dealing with one of Asia's worst COVID-19 outbreaks and its vaccine rollout has been slower than many neighbors, with just over a third of its 110 million population inoculated.
Data monitored by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group as of Nov. 29 showed that more than 35.8 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease, while over 46.2 million others have received their first dose. There were also close to 234,000 booster shots administered so far.
Vaccination rates are uneven with over 90 percent of the capital region's eligible residents inoculated, compared with 11 percent in the poorest parts of the south.
The Philippines rolled out its vaccination drive against COVID-19 last March 1.
Cabotaje said some regions increased their vaccination coverage by 3 to 4 times during the Bayanihan, Bakunahan.
For example, the Bangsamoro region gave some 42,000 to 59,000 jabs, compared to the 10,000 to 12,000 shots it usually administers. Soccsksargen administered 164,000, up from its previous 50,000 output, Cabotaje said.
The government is eyeing another run of its 3-day vaccination drive on Dec. 15 to 17, Malacañang said.
Analysts and health officials attributed the declining trend in new infections observed in the country since last month to the widening vaccination coverage.
— With a report from Reuters