215K vaccinated in two weeks since start of COVID-19 inoculation drive
A health worker administers the Sinovac vaccine to her colleague at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City on March 1, 2021.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

215K vaccinated in two weeks since start of COVID-19 inoculation drive

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - March 16, 2021 - 7:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — More than 215,000 vaccines have been administered to Filipinos two weeks after the government kicked off its inoculation campaign against COVID-19.

Data from the Department of Health showed 215,997 Filipinos have received first doses in 929 vaccination sites as of March 15.

The agency also reported that 96% of the 1,125,600 COVID-19 jabs donated by China and the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility have been distributed, “reaching the northernmost and southernmost island provinces of the country.”

The figure 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 inoculate at least 50 million Filipinos.

The government is facing criticism that the vaccine rollout has been slow as the country battles a spike in COVID-19 infections, which is feared to overwhelm the health system anew.

The DOH and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 sought to assure the public that the “vaccination pace will soar once bulk of vaccines come in for the next priority groups.”

The vaccination campaign started on March 1 with 600,000 Sinovac jabs donated by China. It also received initial 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility.

Given the limited supply, only frontline healthcare workers are being vaccinated at the moment. Uniformed personnel are also receiving Sinovac shots.

The DOH said the inoculation of medical workers is being done in batches “to ensure adequate staffing in health facilities, in light of possible adverse events.”

The government signed a supply deal for 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax, which could arrive in the country between the third and fourth quarter of 2021.

So far, the country has only signed one purchase agreement—for one million doses of Sinovac.

The Philippines has so far reported 631,320 COVID-19 cases, including 12,848 deaths

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