MANILA — At least 8 million Filipinos out of a 9-million target were vaccinated against COVID-19 in a mass immunization drive made more urgent by the threat of the newly discovered Omicron coronavirus variant, the health department said on Friday.
Authorities administered some 2.7 million COVID-19 shots on the campaign's launch on Monday, 2.4 million jabs the next day, and 2.8 million on Wednesday, said Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje.
The running total of administered vaccine doses was at 8,014,751 as of 6 AM on Friday, with the figure expected to rise as more data come in, Cabotaje, chairperson of the National Vaccination Operations Center, said in a televised public briefing.
"Ikinatutuwa po namin iyong naging success ng ating Bayanihan, Bakunahan which happened over the last 3 days," Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in the same briefing.
"Napakaganda po ng naging accomplishment ng ating mga local government units."
(We are happy with the success of our Bayanihan, Bakunahan which happened over the last 3 days. The accomplishment of our local governent units was excellent.)
Video courtesy of PTV
Cabotaje said Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Central Visayas were the top performing regions, which accounted for about a third of the total jabs administered.
Provinces with the highest outputs include Cebu, Negros Occidental, and Cavite, she said.
Other regions recorded improvements in their vaccination drives, including Bicol, which administered some 98,000 jabs during Bayanihan, Bakunahan, up from the 20,000 doses it usually gives, Cabotaje said.
Government has extended the mass vaccination program until this Friday. But the extension's output will not be counted among the 9 million target.
Authorities originally eyed vaccinating 15 million Filipinos in 3 days, but lowered its target on the back of a global syringe shortage.
To fully vaccinate at least 54 million by yearend, another revised target from the initial 77 million individuals, authorities said there would be another 3-day vaccination set from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17.
Carlito Galvez, the country's vaccination chief, said the new Omicron variant had made the campaign even more important.
"It is better to be prepared for the effects of Omicron," , he said in an interview on Monday.
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.
– With a report from Reuters