Vaxx drive target reduced over syringe shortage

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star
Vaxx drive target reduced over syringe shortage
National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 Response Vince Dizon made the announcement in a joint statement yesterday.
Philstar.com / Irish Lising, file

MANILA, Philippines — Citing a shortage in syringes, the government is cutting back its target for this week’s three-day National Vaccination Days against COVID-19 from 15 million jabs to only nine million.

National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 Response Vince Dizon made the announcement in a joint statement yesterday.

“As we are finalizing the preparations for this massive movement across the 16 regions outside Metro Manila, there is currently a shortage in ancillary supplies, particularly syringes for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines and other logistical challenges,” they said.

The original target for the “Bayanihan Bakunahan” was to inoculate five million Filipinos each day from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, but the shortage in syringes drives the target down to three million vaccinations per day.

The NTF and the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) decided on the adjustment following consultations with the provincial, city, and municipal local chief executives and their respective resource management and logistics teams.

Galvez and Dizon explained that shipment schedules of procured supplies made through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have been delayed due to the current global shortage.

“As we know, sufficient ancillary supplies for each of the vaccine brands is essential in the conduct of the National Vaccination Days, as a significant number of those who will be vaccinated will include the younger population or those aged 12 to 17 years old,” they said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved COVID-19 vaccine brands Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for minors. The same brands are also approved for use as booster shots and third doses for health care workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities.

A repeat on Dec. 15-17

A GMA-7 report said that the government is eyeing another three-day National Vaccination Days on Dec. 15-17 to achieve its target of fully vaccinating 54 million Filipinos by end of the year.

“The Bayanihan Bakunahan on Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 will primarily focus on increasing the Philippines’ coverage of the first dose to 70 percent and increase the booster jabs, while the Dec. 15 to 17 activities will be focused on administering the second dose and boosters,” the NTF and NVOC were quoted as saying.

Galvez is still confident of vaccinating 54 million Filipinos by year-end, following Friday’s meeting with top officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and local chief executives in Clark, Pampanga.

LGUs to lead the way

The country’s vaccine czar revealed plans to transform the vaccination program into a national vaccination movement as a strategy to scale up the inoculation rates of local government units (LGUs) nationwide.

“Once we stretch it, we can already leave later on because the three to four million jabs per day might become normal for us,” Galvez said.

He said that out of 81 provinces, 10 provinces have already inoculated 70 percent of their target populations; nine cities have administered the jab to 100 percent of their target populations and 42 cities have vaccinated more than 70 percent of their target populations.

The Clark meeting was also aimed at learning about the best practices of LGUs in their COVID-19 vaccine rollout, identifying gaps in their implementation and developing strategies to scale up inoculations.

Stressing the importance of vaccinating the people of Region 3 (Central Luzon), Galvez said: “Central Luzon is very important. Once we get the NCR, Central Luzon and Region 4-A (Calabarzon), our economy will be 60 percent secured.”

For his part, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III commended Region 3’s Center for Health Development for being No. 3 in terms of the first and second vaccine dose utilization performance.

“Region 3 is now at 65.6 percent of its target 70 percent population,” Duque said. “Those with second dose is about 47 percent.”

The meeting was also attended by Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr., City of San Fernando Mayor Edwin Santiago, Mabalacat Mayor Crisostomo Garbo and other representatives from the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales.

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