DOH: Vaccination pace up at 108K shots daily | Inquirer News
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DOH: Vaccination pace up at 108K shots daily

By: - Reporter / @NikkaINQ
/ 05:30 AM May 22, 2021
Manila residents can ask what COVID-19 vaccine they're getting - Isko Moreno

CROWD DRAWER Vaccination sites offering the US-made Pfizer jabs are drawing large crowds, such as this one outside the Prince Hotel in Ermita, Manila. Authorities have warned against potential superspreader events as the government ramps up the rollout of vaccines. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines — The government has picked up the pace of vaccination and is close to doubling the previous number of shots being administered daily with an average of 108,000 over the past seven days, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Friday.

This compares to 60,000 to 70,000 daily shots reported in the past week, which raised fears that many of the vaccines would be unused before their expiry dates.

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The pace has improved significantly from only 1,000 to 3,000 shots daily when mass vaccination began on March 1, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

As of Tuesday this week, nearly 3.3 million shots had been administered to individuals in the priority groups—healthcare workers, senior citizens, and people with comorbidities.

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The government reported that over 2.5 million have received their first dose while 786,528 had completed their vaccination after receiving their second shot.

It said 99 percent of 7.7 million available doses had been distributed to 3,850 vaccination sites around the country.

Vergeire said there was a sufficient number of health personnel to administer the vaccines. With a P400-million budget, 3,000 had been hired and would be rehired with a new fund allocation when their contract expires in June, she said.

The private sector also offered the services of their healthcare workers to augment the massive vaccination effort, Vergeire said.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said early this month that herd immunity could be reached in the National Capital Region and the six nearby provinces by November with 120,000 doses administered daily.

Brand disclosure

He said the national target for daily vaccination would still be 500,000 shots daily after the country’s vaccine supplies start to increase by the third quarter.

To deal with both vaccine hesitancy and vaccine preference, which officials say undermine the national vaccination effort, President Duterte ordered that brand names not be publicly disclosed in advance.

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It was observed that when the US-made Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was deployed early this week, there were longer queues for it than for the shots made by China’s Sinovac Biotech, creating potential superspreader events as people swarmed vaccination centers.

Vergeire clarified that those in line to get a jab would still be informed about the vaccine brand that they would receive on the day of their scheduled inoculation, a requirement to obtain their consent to receive the shot.

Vergeire said the nondisclosure of the brand was intended only to prevent crowding at places where particular vaccines preferred by more people were to be administered.

That situation will be “very, very dangerous” especially when people break basic health protocols, she said.

She assured the public that “all vaccines are equally effective” as they all went through stringent processes before they were given emergency use authorization.

Elaborating on Mr. Duterte’s directive, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday said the vaccine an individual would receive “would not be secret” and the person had the right to accept or refuse it.

“We respect each individual’s right to choose the brand they want, but let us remember that the coronavirus, especially the new variants such as the more transmissible and more fatal Indian variant, does not discriminate against anybody at any time,” he said.

Risk of delaying

Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, spokesperson for the Department of the Interior and Local Government, cautioned people who preferred certain vaccine brands, saying they may end up being late for their shots.

“Assuming he is an A2 (senior citizen) or A3 (person with comorbidities), he would have to go to the back of the line of all of the A2 or A3 masterlist in that specific community,” he said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel on Friday.

“That will delay the inoculation of that person. If there are many persons like that, that delays the inoculation of the community,” he added.

Critics of the new policy say local governments should just disclose the vaccine brands available early enough so people would not waste time and money going to vaccination sites only to reject the vaccine that was available there.

Malaya said that would be an ideal situation where the country would have an excess supply of vaccines and was not in a rush to inoculate people.

Managing walk-ins

“But we are running against time. We want every individual to be vaccinated at the earliest possible opportunity because we want to achieve herd immunity before the end of the year,” he said.

Vergeire said vaccination venues managed by local governments could accommodate walk-ins if that would help the vaccination drive. She explained that if those who had registered were not present during their scheduled shot, people on a quick substitution list could be inoculated to prevent vaccine wastage.

But Vergeire said that the local governments must manage walk-ins properly and set limited slots for walk-in applicants.

Vergeire said that there had been discussions on how to streamline the vaccination of the A4 and A5 group, or essential workers and indigents.

There will also be prioritization in these two groups, depending on the vaccine supply.

Vergeire also noted possible challenges in the proper identification of indigents as the database may have changed due to the pandemic. The concerned agencies would have to make sure that the database is up to date, she said.

—WITH REPORTS FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA AND DEXTER CABALZA

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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