Thousands scramble for Pfizer jabs in Manila
Picture of vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 taken as elderly people are being inoculated amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, at the Carlos A Mendoza school in San Miguelito neighborhood in Panama City on March 4, 2021.
AFP/Luis Acosta, file

Thousands scramble for Pfizer jabs in Manila

Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Thousands of people swarmed at a vaccination site offering the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs in Manila yesterday, prompting police and the city government to enforce physical distancing protocols to prevent a super spreader event.

The residents lined up as early as midnight at the Manila Prince Hotel in Ermita, where 900 doses of Pfizer vaccine were offered by the city government to medical frontliners, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities.

At least 598 qualified beneficiaries received their first Pfizer dose as of yesterday noon, according to city hall.

The long lines that marred the Pfizer jab drive in Manila also happened on Monday at a vaccination site in Parañaque, where hundreds also failed to comply with health protocols. Several people went home unvaccinated with their preferred brand.

According to a report on dzMM, at least 3,000 people lined up for the limited Pfizer jabs in Manila.

But Manila Police District director Brig. Gen. Leo Francisco said the crowd estimate was only over 1,000.

Francisco said he ordered the deployment of police officers from the district mobile force battalion and special weapons and tactics team to maintain COVID-19 protocols.

Irate residents who failed to get their preferred vaccine brand aired their frustrations over the long lines and lack of a system in place.

Journalist Kenneth Guda posted on Facebook that he had received a text from city hall about the Pfizer jab, but he ran out of slot when he arrived at the vaccination site at around 7 a.m.

Guda, of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, lamented the long lines of people “fighting” over the limited vaccine supply.

Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday denied that city hall sent a text blast, specifically offering the Pfizer jab despite limited supply of the vaccine brand sought after for its high efficacy rate.

The text messages received by residents did not indicate a vaccine brand, he said.

Moreno urged residents to avail themselves of other vaccine brands at other inoculation sites, adding that the lines there yesterday were not long.

“We need to vaccinate many people as soon as possible. People are dying from this dreadful disease. We need to protect the public,” Moreno said.

As of Monday, a total of 137,467 people have received their first vaccine dose in Manila while 57,198 have received their second dose, according to Moreno.

At a press briefing yesterday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque appealed to the public to comply with social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols amid their excitement over the Pfizer vaccine.

The country has an initial supply of only 193,050 Pfizer doses from the vaccine-sharing facility COVAX.

Another 2.2 million Pfizer doses are expected to arrive through the same facility in the coming months, according to the goverment’s pandemic task force.

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