Duterte orders first round of Covid-19 vaccination by first week of March
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the first round of vaccinations to begin in the first week of March, his long-time aide disclosed.
Further details on the rollout will be provided in due course by vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., who also serves as the National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said in a statement Sunday.
“Inatasan ni Pangulo Duterte na sa susunod na linggo umpisahan na agad ang pagtuturok ng mga bakuna, especially sa mga priority [groups] natin, sa mga frontliners, indigent na senior citizens para unti-unti na tayong makabalik sa normal nating pamumuhay,” Go said.
“First week of March darating rin ang unang batch ng bakuna sa Visayas at Mindanao. Pagkarating nito, susunod na araw pwede na mag-inoculate,” the senator added, citing discussions with Galvez.
The government’s vaccination program was supposed to kick off in mid-February with the arrival of 117,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine through the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility.
Vaccines from the Covax facility were supposed to be the first to arrive in the country mid-February, but the delivery was stalled by issues regarding the indemnification agreement.
As of Feb. 18, the government and World Health Organization were still waiting for the indemnity agreements with Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca, which are needed to finalize the delivery of the vaccines through Covax.
Government officials recently said 525,600 doses of Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca are expected to be delivered to the Philippines by March 1.
Meanwhile, 600,000 doses of the vaccine developed by China-based Sinovac are expected to arrive Sunday afternoon, with the President scheduled to personally welcome the delivery.
According to Go, the President wants to store the vaccines in “strategic places.”
“Of course, sa Visayas, sa mga naka-ready na pasilidad doon sa hospital sa Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (sa Cebu City). Sa Davao City, sa Southern Philippines Medical Center dahil nakapaghanda na rin sila doon…Ang gusto ni Pangulo distributed [ang mga bakuna] all over the country,” said Go, chair of the Senate Health Committee.
Duterte recently signed into law a bill that will establish an indemnity fund of P500 million and expedite the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.
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