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WHO: Philippines' COVID vaccine rollout for elderly 'unfortunate, unsatisfactory'

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
WHO: Philippines' COVID vaccine rollout for elderly 'unfortunate, unsatisfactory'
An elderly woman receives her COVID-19 vaccine shot in this undated photo
The STAR / file

MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged the Philippines to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations on vulnerable groups, as its representative said the rollout for the elderly is "unfortunate and unsatisfactory."

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe gave the blunt assessment at a government briefing as he announced the COVAX Facility, co-led by the WHO, would send some 10 million more doses to the country. 

"We have made progress but unfortunately, the progress in the Philippines has been painfully slow," he said. "This is unfortunate, unsatisfactory."

Half a year since inoculation efforts began, Abeyasinghe said 3.6 million senior citizens have yet to receive even a single shot.

The government has put the elderly second in its priority list. Data on September 13 showed there are now 4.17 million of that age group complete with their COVID-19 shots, while 3.47 million have received an initial dose. 

Abeyasinghe said protecting the most vulnerable has become more urgent as the country faces a new uptick in infections.

On coronavirus-related deaths, he said seven out of 10 also come from those about 60 years of age. 

"We need to correct this as quickly as possible," he added, "because we're seeing a surge affecting many other regions in the Philippines [where] the elderly coverage is still below 40%."

Experts have said the fresh surge in coronavirus cases may be driven by the highly infectious Delta, which the WHO has said is now the dominant variant in the country. 

The highest tally in the string of record-high infections was seen on September 11 with 26,303 more infections. That count is also the most number of cases reported in a day since the pandemic hit in 2020.

"We need to do better and we urge local chief executives and health authorities to prioritize and create avenues so most elderly people can be vaccinated and their lives protected," Abeyasinghe said. 

Per latest government data, the number of Filipinos fully vaccinated for COVID-19 has stood at 17.07 million.

That makes up 22.14% of the government's target of up to 70 million this year. Some 22.06 million have received a first dose. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 18, 2022 - 3:39pm

A new thread on the Philippines' vaccination program in 2021 in the government's revised objective to reach "population protection." Bookmark our COVID-19 and Vaccination Dashboard for the latest figures on the pandemic in the Philippines. — Main image: The STAR/Michael Varcas, file

May 18, 2022 - 3:39pm

Senior citizens and frontline health workers may now get their second booster shots, particularly mRNA jabs such as Moderna and Pfizer, the Department of Health announces. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

February 11, 2022 - 5:55pm

The Department of Health – 9 (DOH) reported a very low turnout for the third phase of the National Vaccination Day against COVID-19 in the Zamboanga Peninsula region.

Angeline Jaldon, DOH-9 information officer, said based on the report of the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU), only 16,976 or 10% of their target 169,764 eligible individuals showed up.

Jaldon said the low turnout was attributed to complacency and lack of interest to get inoculated.

The DOH regional office is looking into what strategies local government units used to convince constitutents to get vaccinated.

The low turnout may also have kept Zamboanga Peninsula among the areas in Mindanao at high risk from COVID-19. —The STAR/Roel Pareño

February 11, 2022 - 5:05pm

The Department of Health – 9 (DOH) reported a very low turnout for the third phase of the National Vaccination Day against COVID-19 in the Zamboanga Peninsula region.

Angeline Jaldon, DOH-9 information officer, said based on the report of the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU), only 16,976 or 10% of their target 169,764 eligible individuals showed up.

Jaldon said the low turnout was attributed to complacency and lack of interest to get inoculated.

The DOH regional office is looking into what strategies local government units used to convince constitutents to get vaccinated.

The low turnout may also have kept Zamboanga Peninsula among the areas in Mindanao at high risk from COVID-19. —The STAR/Roel Pareño

January 31, 2022 - 2:46pm

The Philippines will roll out its vaccination program for children aged 5 to 11 years old on February 4.

The pandemic task force says Pfizer vaccines exclusive for kids will arrive this week.
 

January 14, 2022 - 10:14am

The percentage of the population with full vaccination has reached almost 50% at 53 million, says National Task Force adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa.

In an interview with dzBB, Herbosa suggests that five million more have yet to receive their second vaccine dose.

"Around 58 million have received at least the first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 and 4.7 million have been jabbed with a booster," he says in Filipino.

View the COVID-19 and Vaccination Dashboard for the latest figures on the pandemic in the Philippines.

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