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New Sinovac jabs sent to areas with surging cases
COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. made the statement following calls by lawmakers for a more equitable distribution of vaccines nationwide.
AFP/Lillian Suwanrumpha

New Sinovac jabs sent to areas with surging cases

Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - June 19, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With over 10 million COVID vaccine doses expected to arrive in the country this month, high-risk areas in Mindanao, particularly those experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases, will get more vaccines, National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday.

Galvez made the statement following calls by lawmakers for a more equitable distribution of vaccines nationwide.

“The National Task Force against COVID-19 would like to assure our honorable members of Congress that we will not neglect the regions, especially those in Mindanao, in our vaccine deployment,” Galvez said.

“Following President Duterte’s directive to deploy more vaccines to the regions, we will immediately send more vaccines to Mindanao as soon as the rest of the deliveries arrive this month,” Galvez added.

For the month of June, the country has so far received over 4.3 million vaccine doses, bringing to 12,705,870 the total number of vaccine doses the Philippines has received since February.

Around six million more vaccine doses from different manufacturers are expected to arrive this month.

“The bulk of our vaccine shipments only started to arrive in May. The vaccine deployment was based on the government’s risk assessment, as well as our prioritization categories for the most vulnerable populations,” Galvez said.

The NTF and the Department of Health (DOH) appeared before a public hearing called by the House committee on Mindanao affairs on Monday, to address the lawmakers’ concerns on the nation’s vaccine rollout, testing and other aspects of the government’s COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts.

During interpellation, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, of Cagayan de Oro City’s second district, lamented the lack of vaccines in the region despite the surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Because of this lack of vaccines, deaths have been reported daily in MIndanao… these are battleground cities and yet, there are no (vaccines),” Rodriguez said in Filipino and English.

Undersecretary Isidro Purisima, who represented Galvez during the hearing, apologized for the delay in vaccine deployment, as he gave assurance that areas such as Cagayan de Oro City will soon be receiving additional vaccine doses.

“We apologize for the shortage of vaccine supplies for the past weeks. But we will definitely increase the allocations… I would like to let the people in Mindanao understand that we are not ignoring Mindanao. We will address this concern,” Purisima said in Filipino and English.

Galvez extended condolences to the families of those who died of COVID-19 in Mindanao and appealed to lawmakers for more patience as vaccine supply is on the way.

“I offer my sincerest condolences to the families of those who have lost their loved ones to this deadly disease. Mindanao is close to my heart, as I was stationed there for many years as a soldier,” Galvez said.

“We are getting more vaccines there very soon, and Mindanao will not be left behind. This is my promise to all Mindanaoans,” Galvez added.

As of June 14, a total of 1,735,630 vaccine doses have been delivered to Mindanao. Galvez also recently deployed almost half a million vaccines to the region’s most affected areas with 210,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines in Davao, 35,000 in Cagayan de Oro and additional vaccines to Dipolog, Zamboanga City, Cotabato City, Zamboanga del Sur, General Santos City, Koronadal, Bukidnon, Butuan and other affected areas of Luzon and the Visayas.

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