The Philippines is eyeing to vaccinate ordinary citizens against Covid-19 as early as next month, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Wednesday.
Galvez said the elderly, persons with underlying health conditions, and the poor — who are next to medical workers in the priority list for inoculation — might receive Covid-19 jabs in late April or early May.
“Our projection is that we will start their inoculation in late April and early May for the general public, including seniors, poor families, and vulnerable communities,” he told ANC in an interview.
Galvez, who was among the first recipients of legally-acquired Covid-19 vaccines in the country, maintained that the government is eyeing to immunize two million health workers within the month as it expects the arrival of 5.1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines in the first quarter of the year.
If the arrival of vaccines gets delayed, Galvez said health workers’ inoculation would be moved to April.
Based on the list adopted by the technical advisory group on national immunization, frontline workers in both private and public facilities, as well as non-health professionals employed in hospitals such as nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers and medical students should receive the first Covid-19 vaccines in the country.
They were followed by the elderly, persons with comorbidities, and poor citizens not included in the preceding categories.
Meanwhile, teachers, social workers, other government and essential workers have been placed in the second tier of prioritization.
Socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people, overseas Filipino workers, and others in the workforce were also part of the priority list for Covid-19 jabs.
The private sector and local government units (LGU) are expected to aid the national government in securing Covid-19 vaccines for their employees and constituents excluded in the state’s priority list.
Over 200 companies and 39 city mayors have procured some 17 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca through tripartite agreements with the national government.
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and GoNegosyo Chairperson Joey Concepcion said LGU should provide vaccines for micro, small and medium enterprises such as sari-sari store owners.
“For those who cannot buy vaccines, the LGU should support them, so there would be no problem.
They should be prioritized by the LGU because they have been paying their taxes,” Concepcion told the Tribune in a phone interview.
Aside from shots developed by AstraZeneca, the Covid-19 vaccine made by American pharmaceutical firm Moderna could also be purchased by LGU and the private sector “hopefully in the second or third quarter of 2021,” Concepcion said.
The Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), composed of Filipino-Chinese businessmen, has announced its plans to buy 500,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech vaccines.
FFCCCII president Henry Lim Bon Liong said their initiative seeks to “safeguard the entrepreneurs and our workers who are at the forefront of Philippine socio-economic development.”
The procurement of the vaccines would be financed by voluntary donations and purchases by over 170 Filipino Chinese chambers and trade organizations nationwide, he said.
“For this project, FFCCCII shall partner with major hospitals nationwide and the vaccinations would be undertaken in auditoriums or places near these hospitals.
This socio-civic project is our expression of solidarity with the Philippine national goal of widespread vaccination, so that we can achieve herd immunity, quickly revive our economy, restore and create jobs,” Liong explained.
He also noted that the rollout of the state’s vaccination drive may hasten Philippine economic recovery and boost business confidence, saying the FFCCCII supports the “important” program.
The Philippines began its immunization program on Monday, with health workers, military personnel, and top pandemic response officials like Galvez getting the first of the coveted shots.