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EDITORIAL - Targeted vaccination

EDITORIAL - Targeted vaccination

(The Philippine Star) - May 6, 2021 - 12:00am

If you have limited ammunition, you have to make each shot count by focusing on priority targets. This is the analogy used by those pushing for targeted vaccination, with priority given to the places now experiencing a vicious surge in COVID infections.

These places include the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal or the NCR Plus. The NCR, which has always been the epicenter of the COVID pandemic, and its neighboring provinces where many industrial zones are located account for about half of gross domestic production.

Weak public health capabilities and a slow rollout of COVID vaccines have led to the longest lockdown in the world in the NCR Plus, dragging the entire country into its worst post-war recession. With all the virulent COVID variants entering the country in the past two months, infections and deaths have surged, overwhelming hospitals and forcing a return to strict lockdowns in the NCR Plus. The variants now appear to be spreading outside the NCR all the way to Zamboanga City.

With the possibility of the entry of the even more virulent “double mutant” strain now ravaging India, and economists anxious over the further extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine in the NCR Plus, the only answer is a ramp-up of vaccination in the region.

The National Task Force Against COVID-19 is aiming to prioritize the NCR Plus and other infection hotspots for vaccination to speed up the attainment of herd immunity. NTF head and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez explained that instead of 110 million people, the government can then focus on vaccinating 70 percent of only 83 million people, or a little over 58 million. If 500,000 jabs can be administered daily, which Galvez says is doable, the task can be completed in 180 days, or by November.

Six months is still too slow, and many more people will be infected and succumb to COVID. But the timeline can still improve if vaccine procurement and distribution can be boosted, particularly with the participation of the private sector.

By the Christmas holidays, people from the NCR Plus and the economic centers of the Visayas and Mindanao, which are also reeling from COVID infections, can start traveling for leisure around the country again, eating in restaurants and reviving all the businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic. Businessmen are backing Galvez’s proposal, and it deserves the government’s support.

COVID-19 VACCINE
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