The Department of Health (DoH) on Sunday said that at least two million Filipinos were already vaccinated against the coronavirus disease since the start of the inoculation program last March.
In a radio interview, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje acknowledged that the government inoculation program is still comparatively slow amid the limited arrival of the vaccines in the country.
“As of 28 April, we were able to inoculate at least 1.8 million Filipinos and for the next days from 29, 30 (April) and 1 May, we can expect to reach two million,” she said.
“This is not yet okay in the sense that we want more Filipinos to be vaccinated but we can’t do something as we are constrained by the number of doses that we receive,” Cabotaje added.
The health official pointed out that at least 60 to 70 percent of the 1.7 million healthcare workers under A1 category have been inoculated.
“Our priority is the A1 or the healthcare workers but the surge in the NCR (National Capital Region) plus, we increased the number eligible for the vaccination, so we covered the A2 or the senior citizens and the A3, or those with comorbidities. We did not complete the vaccination of A1 in other regions because we concentrated on the NCR plus,” Cabotaje said.
She added that aside from Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, the government decided to include Pampanga and Batangas in the priority list for the vaccination program.
According to her, many senior citizens have not yet been vaccinated as they represent the biggest number in the priority sector.
“We have many senior citizens and yet our vaccines are still limited so we want to make sure there will be no privileged access, there will be no jumping the line, just like what happened before,” Cabotaje said.
She added that the DoH is monitoring the other regions to ensure no one will violate the priority list.
Show cause order
“We are issuing show cause order on areas where there are reports of jumping the line and ask them to explain,” she said.
Cabotaje said that the target of vaccinating 70 million population to achieve herd immunity can still be achieved by end of 2021.
“If doses come as they have been planned, by July to August, we hope to at least cover all the priority sector under category A. We are now implementing the vaccination of A3 or those with comorbidities and after that we can start covering the A4 or the economic frontliners and then the A5 or the indigent population,” Cabotaje said.
She said that the inoculation of indigent population is also crucial as they live in crowded areas which are prone to the transmission of the virus because of their living conditions.
“So, we hope to start the inoculation for the indigent population by June or July. We need two doses for one individual except for Janssen, which requires one dose. So even your supply is big, we still need to divide it by two,” she explained.
The country has already received all the 1.5 million CoronaVac shots it has ordered from Sinovac for the month of April. The government expects the delivery of another 1.5 million CoronaVac doses by 7 May.
For June, the country stands to receive a total of 10,349,210 vaccine doses, which include 194,000 doses from Moderna, 4.5 million doses from Sinovac, 2 million doses from Gamaleya, 1.3 million doses from AstraZeneca (private sector-procured), and 2,355,210 Pfizer doses from the COVAX facility.
While for July, 13.5 million vaccine doses are scheduled to arrive in the Philippines. These include 3 million doses from Sinovac, 4 million doses from Gamaleya, 1 million doses from Moderna, 2 million doses from Novavax, 1.5 million doses from Janssen from Johnson and Johnson, and 2 million doses from AstraZeneca.
The country is set to receive 15 to 20 million vaccine doses per month starting August up until December of this year, which if sustained, would enable the country to achieve herd immunity by 2021.