NEW YORK—With COVID-19 already claiming more than 600,000 lives in the US, the Philippine Consulate General here, the New York City Health and Hospitals, and some Filipino-American organizations in the East Coast did their part in administering at least 500 free shots of Johnson & Johnson's vaccines in a mobile vaccination site on Fifth Avenue and 46th over the weekend.
"That we are making sure that vaccines are available to all our Filipino constituents here in New York . . . The vaccination clinic is also open to everyone, walk-in clients especially even tourists," Vice-Consul Paolo Marco Mapula said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has encouraged vaccine tourism, not only for the safety of New Yorkers from tourists, but to pump in tourism dollars into the city's economy as well.
When it comes to US efforts to share COVID-19 vaccines with countries in need, there's some good news for the Philippines.
"The US government has pledged 40 million additional doses of vaccines and our organization US Medicare Philippines is pushing hard to have 5 million delivered this coming month of July and 5 million every month until the 40-million commitment is met," Eric Lachica of US Medicare Philippine said.
Consul General Elmer Cato added: "Right now, unfortunately even if we’re vaccinated, we have to go through quarantine once we arrive in the Philippines. But we’re hoping that as more vaccines doses arrive in the Philippines, and more and more Filipinos get vaccinated, the IATF would take a second look at on their current protocols."
As of June 10, the US has delivered 5 million doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines to the Philippines via the US COVAX Program.
For his part, US President Joe Biden said aside from the 80 million doses of vaccines the US has promised to share globally, the US will purchase another 500 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer that will be donated to nearly 100 low and lower middle-income countries, including the Philippines.
Biden promised the US will start sending out 200 million of these doses by August, while the rest of the 300 million doses will be made available to countries that need them by 2022.