Gov’t seeks to raise vaccination rate in H2 to 4 million weekly

PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE GOVERNMENT seeks to inoculate more than a million Filipinos weekly against the coronavirus in the second half (H2) as it tries to ensure enough supply of vaccines, according to the presidential palace.

The country will take delivery of about four million doses of coronavirus vaccines in April, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. told DZBB radio on Wednesday.

He said the country was also expecting about eight million vaccine doses in May so it could vaccinate at least two million Filipinos a week. In June, the country will increase its supply by one million so it can vaccinate three million Filipinos weekly, he added.

Mr. Galvez, who also serves as the deputy chief implementer of the country’s pandemic response, said the country would have enough vaccine supply by July, when as many as four million Filipinos will have been vaccinated weekly.

“Gradually, we will raise the target by one million a week, two million a week and three million a week,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

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More vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc are expected to arrive in May, and about 200,000 shots from Moderna, Inc., Mr. Galvez said.

The Philippines started vaccinating health workers on Mar. 1 using CoronaVac made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and donated by China. It is also injecting people with 525,600 doses of the vaccine made by British drug maker AstraZeneca that were obtained under a global initiative for equal access.

Mr. Galvez earlier said Manila would take delivery of at least 1.4 million more doses of Sinovac shots this month. Of the total, about 400,000 vials were fresh donations from Beijing, and the rest were paid for by the government.

About 900,000 more doses of AstraZeneca shots under the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access facility will also arrive in late March or early April, he said.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office late last year showed that many Filipinos were inclined to get vaccinated if they could afford it. But 80% said they were concerned about vaccine effectivity.

“The vast majority of respondents (across ASEAN+3 region) would take the COVID-19 vaccine,” it said in a note.

“But, the speed of development and approval of the vaccines have made respondents somewhat apprehensive about their safety. Hence, many would rather wait for further information on the vaccines and their potential side effects,” it added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Beatrice M. Laforga

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