First batch of vaccines in PH next week
MANILA, Philippines — The initial batch of COVID-19 vaccines from the global vaccine sharing scheme COVAX is expected to arrive in the country by mid-February, Malacañang said on Monday as it gave an assurance that the government would be ready to launch its vaccination drive next week.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the government expected to hear from COVAX any time now on the exact date of the vaccines’ delivery, and said all preparations were in place once these arrived in the country.
“The COVAX facility said it will arrive mid-February and as far as we’re concerned, as you can see from the report of the mayors, we are ready to begin the vaccination and we are ready to do it by Feb. 15,” Roque said at a press briefing.
He said the Philippines would be given notice of the impending delivery two to three days before the vaccines are loaded in the aircraft so that it would have time to prepare to receive these at the airport.
Initially from Pfizer
The initial shipment from the global procurement pool would be 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which would require subzero temperatures for storage, he said.
They would be kept in the Department of Health (DOH) warehouse before being distributed to COVID-19 referral hospitals, he said.
He also said Pfizer would be responsible for bringing the vaccines to the areas where these would be used.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier expressed preference for the Chinese or Russian vaccine, will be given priority in the vaccination because he is a senior citizen, Roque said.
It is also important for him to get the shot to inspire public confidence, he said.
“We expect him to be among the first. Whether it is done publicly or privately will be his decision,” he said.
The DOH on Monday said local governments in Metro Manila and metropolitan Cebu and Davao must have set up their vaccination operation centers by Feb. 10.
Speaking at an online briefing, Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, who is in charge of the DOH public health service team, said the centers would be in charge of the vaccine rollout in local areas with contingency measures in place to address any problem.
“They will help us see the entirety to the implementation of the vaccine rollout. There will be planning, policy [awareness], dissemination of guidelines—there will just be one source of our information. There will be logistics [employees] who will be in charge of the vaccines, if the ancillaries are there,” Cabotaje said.
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