MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday urged government and the private sector to "work harder" in the second run of a COVID-19 mass vaccination drive made more urgent by the threat of the omicron coronavirus variant.
The Philippines eyes vaccinating 7 million Filipinos in the second phase of the "Bayanihan, Bakunahan" program from Dec. 15 to 17.
"As we launch, the second phase of the Bayanihan, Bakunahan, let us demonstrate the same enthusiasm, cooperation, and resolve that made the first phase a success," Duterte said in a message read by his acting spokesman Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
"Let us work harder to reach every unvaccinated Filipino so we can give them the protection they need to stay in good health," added the President during the program culminating Bayanihan, Bakunahan's first run.
Authorities inoculated about 8,098,078 million people of the 9 million target during the program's first phase from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, said vaccine "czar" Carlito Galvez Jr.
"The highly successful first phase of Bayanihan, Bakunahan has not only brought us closer to our goal of population protection against COVID-19, it has also demonstrated what remarkable feats we can achieve if we are united and working with solidarity," Duterte said through Nograles.
"We honor your heroism," the President told frontliners, government workers, private partners, and the general pubic who participated in the event.
He congratulated local government units with highest outputs during the program, including Calabarzon, Laguna province, Cebu City, Tanza, Rodriguez, and Arayat towns.
Duterte also commended Tawi-Tawi and General Santos City for recording the highest improvement in jab rate.
Since March, the Philippines has fully vaccinated at least 39.5 million of its 77.1 million target population.
The Philippines has not yet detected any case of omicron, which the World Health Organization classified as a variant of concern. The WHO said omicron was likely more transmissible than previous variants though "highly unlikely" to completely evade vaccine protection.
“Bagamat patuloy ang pagbaba ng ating mga kaso [ng COVID-19], mas kailangan natin ang ibayong pag-iingat laban sa mas nakahahawang sakit,” Galvez said.
(Though our COVID-199 cases continue to go down, we need to be more careful of more transmissible variants.)