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House-to-house rollout mulled

‘Conducting house-to-house inoculation is one of the best practices we have seen in some areas with high vaccination rates’

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Malacañang is urging local officials to improve their Covid-19 vaccination scheme for walk-ins and to launch house-to-house inoculation initiatives amid the threat of the Omicron variant.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Saturday called on mayors and village chiefs to accommodate their residents who went to inoculation hubs even if they have yet to pre-register their details at the local governments’ vaccination database.

“One of the things we can improve is the system for walk-ins because in every local government unit, there are walk-ins we need to accommodate,” he said in a radio interview.

The Palace official encouraged officials to conduct house-to-house vaccination for their residents to make Covid-19 shots accessible.

“Conducting house-to-house inoculation is one of the best practices we have seen in some areas with high vaccination rates,” he said.

Nograles also reminded businessmen that their employees who would skip work to receive Covid-19 jabs this month should not be considered absent from work and therefore not receive pay deductions, as stated in previous resolutions issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

The government, he added, is considering another three-day massive vaccination run from 15 to 17 December to boost the state’s jab efforts.

Authorities conducted the first round of the “Bayanihan Bakunahan” nationwide inoculation drive from 29 November to 3 December where eight million vaccine shots have been administered.

The figure was short of the government’s nine million target. Presidential adviser for Covid-19 response Secretary Vince Dizon earlier attributed the missed target to challenges on logistics and information campaigns.

Some local officials also reportedly failed to accommodate their citizens who did not pre-register online, Dizon added.

Nograles, meanwhile, said the government has yet to set a new jab target during the second round of vaccination days, but he vowed that officials would make improvements to inoculate more people.

 

Probe ongoing

On the other hand, a fact-finding investigation on the alleged expiration of unused Covid-19 vaccines during the first “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” jab drive is ongoing, Nograles said.

He was referring to reports that some 14,620 AstraZeneca doses in Negros Occidental expired on 30 November, which fell on the second day of the first round of the vaccination drive.

“We still don’t have a conclusion with regard to that,” he said.

He stressed, however, that the government is being mindful of the expiration dates of Covid-19 vaccines it would administer to the public.

The Palace official said the government’s vaccine cluster is evaluating the expiration dates of the coveted jabs arriving in the country.

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. announced last week that the government would ask vaccine-sharing platform COVAX to receive jab donations that have at least four months of shelf life.

The Philippines is teeming with Covid-19 vaccine supply with over 146.5 million doses delivered, but only 107.2 million doses have been deployed, based on the government data available as of Thursday.

So far, 37.3 million individuals of the country’s 110 million population have been fully inoculated, while 52.4 million people are still waiting for their second doses. About 421,000 Filipinos have received booster jabs.

The figures are nearing the government’s target of fully vaccinating 50 million individuals this year to achieve population protection against Covid-19.

Vaccination remains a crucial component of the state’s pandemic response, especially amid the presence of emerging coronavirus variants like Omicron, which was said to be the virus type with the most number of mutations.

It has been detected in 38 countries, up from 23 two days ago, with early data suggesting that it is more contagious than the Delta type which was blamed for deadly infection surges globally.

Authorities have yet to detect the newly-discovered Omicron variant in the Philippines, but the government has since imposed strict border controls to control the spread of the virus.

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