DOH: 193K get first dose in first two weeks of COVID-19 vaccination drive

DOH: 193K get first dose in first two weeks of COVID-19 vaccination drive
Health Secretary Francisco Duque injects a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the ceremonial immunization drive using CoronaVac from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac at private hospital The Medical City in Pasig City on March 3, 2021.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has so far inoculated more than 193,000 Filipinos, mostly health workers, nearly two weeks after the country’s vaccination drive started, the Department of Health said.

Out of the 1.125 million vaccine doses that arrived in the Philippines, the government has only administered 193,492 doses as of March 13, Health Secretary Franciso Duque III said.

The volume is just a small fraction of the 161 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that the country is supposed to receive by the end of 2021 to vaccinate at least 50 million Filipinos.

The health chief lauded Metro Manila hospitals for achieving a high COVID-19 inoculation coverage.

“National Capital Region has performed quite well. They’re now at 70% for the first dose of inoculation,” he said in a briefing Monday. 

Slow rollout?

The country’s vaccination campaign started on March 1 with 600,000 Sinovac jabs donated by China. It also received initial 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine through the COVAX Facility.

Given the limited supply, only medical workers and uniformed personnel are being vaccinated at the moment. Over 1.7 million health workers are at the top of the government’s vaccination priority list.

The government is facing criticisms that the vaccine rollout has been slow as the country battles a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

“The inoculation of medical workers must be carried out in a deliberate manner. Considering the crucial task they perform, they vaccination must be done in batches in light of possible adverse effects and the impact on the manning requirements of health facilities,” vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said Sunday.

He added the pace of the vaccination program “shall significantly pick up” when all medical frontliners are vaccinated and the country already has enough vaccine supplies.

Beverly Ho, director of the agency’s Health Promotion Bureau and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, said in a separate briefing that 90% of the vaccines have been distributed to vaccination sites across the country. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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