MANILA — The Philippines is eyeing a monthly run of its mass vaccination drive against COVID-19, a government official said Friday, as the country stays on guard against a potential coronavirus surge driven by the omicron variant.
The first 2 rounds of the "Bayanihan, Bakunahan" program administered 10.2 million vaccine doses from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3, and at least 6.4 million jabs from Dec. 15 to 22.
"Tuluy-tuloy po iyan. Kailangan talaga paigtingin natin ito at plano gawin natin iyan buwan-buwan," Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of National Task Force Against COVID-19, said in a public briefing that aired on Friday.
(That will be continuous. We need to intensify it and we plan to that monthly.)
Mutations of the novel coronavirus make it necessary for government to administer booster jabs, he noted.
"Kailangan na lang talaga natin kooperasyon ng mga kababayan natin. Huwag kayong matatakot, mas matakot kayo sa epekto ng mga bagong variant na talagang tatargetin ng bagong variant na ito iyong hindi pa bakunado," Dizon said.
(We just need the cooperation of our compatriots. Do not be afraid of the vaccine, far the new variants instead because these will target the unvaccinated.)
The Philippines has fully immunized nearly 45.3 million of its 109 million population against the respiratory disease, as of Wednesday.
The government aims to achieve complete vaccination for 54 million people before the end of December, 77 million by the first quarter of next year, 90 million by the second quarter, and the rest of population by the third quarter.
Typhoon Odette, which left a wide trail of destruction in the central and southern Philippines late last week, has caused delays in inoculation efforts, Dizon said.
"Pinipilit pa rin nating maabot ito so kailangan lang medyo mag-ramp up tayo ng mga babakunahan natin lalo na ng second dose nitong mga susunod na araw, natitirang ng 2021," he said of the year-end target.
(We are trying to reach this, so we just need to ramp up our vaccination, especially for the second dose, in the remaining days of 2021.)
"Pina-prioritize din natin iyong Janssen vaccines natin dahil isang bakuna lang, isang dose lang ay fully vaccinated na ang ating mga kababayan," added the official.
(We are also prioritizing our Janssen vaccine because it just takes one dose to fully vaccinate our compatriots.)
Earlier this week, the Philippines found its third imported case of the omicron COVID-19 variant linked to a surge in coronavirus cases in some countries.
Government has maintained looser curbs until the end of the year, as average daily infections have dropped sharply from a September peak of more than 18,500.
— With a report from Reuters