7.63M jabbed in three days; local gov’ts extend drive | Inquirer News
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7.63M jabbed in three days; local gov’ts extend drive

Ilocos Norte residents receive COVID-19 vaccines during the first day of the three-day national vaccination drive

Ilocos Norte residents receive COVID-19 vaccines during the first day of the three-day national vaccination drive on Monday, Nov. 29. (Photo courtesy of Ilocos Norte provincial government)

The National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) has approved the voluntary extension of the National Vaccination Days (NVDs) until Friday, Dec. 3, following the request of local government units (LGUs) for additional vaccine doses and more time to inoculate their constituents.

In an advisory issued on Wednesday, the NTF allowed LGUs to extend the national vaccination drive “to sustain the momentum of the operations of the NVD and to take advantage of the interest of constituents toward vaccination.”

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Regional vaccination operations centers were directed to “facilitate augmentation of resources and provision of technical support, and ensure allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and ancillaries (syringes, alcohol, cotton, etc.) to [these] LGUs.”

The extended days of NVDs, however, are no longer working holidays. Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, chief of the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC), said the regions that have expressed their intent to extend the mass vaccination drive were Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

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3-day tally

Citing figures from the NVOC as of 6 a.m. of Dec. 2, NTF chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government vaccinated a total of 7.63 million people during the past three days, which still fell short of the lowered target of administering 9 million doses. The government had originally planned to inoculate 15 million people during the three-day campaign.

Galvez said he was hoping the figure could reach 8 million in the coming days as several LGUs, especially in far-flung areas, have yet to transmit their data. Cabotaje said there were 2.7 million vaccine recipients on Monday, followed by 2.4 million on Tuesday and the preliminary figure for Wednesday was also around 2.4 million.

Of the total, she said about 85 percent, or 6.46 million, received their first shots. This brought to 54 million the total number of eligible Filipinos nationwide who have received at least one shot.

Appeal to employers

Three percent of the doses were administered as booster shots, while the rest were second doses. About a third of those who got vaccinated were from the pediatric population or eligible minors.Cabotaje said the top performing regions were Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Central Visayas. The top performing provinces, on the other hand, were Cavite, Laguna and Cebu.

The regions that have exceeded their targets were Ilocos, Metro Manila, Cordillera, Mimaropa and Cagayan Valley, she added. After the program, Cabotaje said the country will revert to its target of 1 million to 2 million doses administered daily.

“We should strive very hard because there are 21 million more who have not yet been vaccinated all over the Philippines. And then there are others who are due for their second doses, and then we will also be giving booster doses,” Cabotaje pointed out.

She appealed to employers to allow their unvaccinated employees to get their shots without being marked absent. Cabotaje said there were also isolated reports about people backing out because they wanted specific brands of vaccines.

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“Anyway, there are still many days for them to come back for their preferred vaccine but we would like to relay to everyone that whatever vaccine is there, it will offer the same protection like any other vaccine,” she said. The DOH official said the NVOC was also completing its report about vaccines that have been wasted or had expired and to determine if these were donated, procured or privately purchased stockpiles.

Cabotaje said the current wastage rate of all the acquired vaccines was less than 1 percent.

She clarified that some Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines that were reported to have expired last Nov. 30, did not actually expire as the date pertained to shelf life, and not the expiry date. These doses were still good for another three months, Cabotaje said.

Sustained drive The doses that will expire in December and January will be administered as first doses, she said. While the initial NVDs had ended, the vaccine czar reminded LGUs that they should sustain their vaccination output.

All walk-ins should be accepted, Galvez said, citing President Duterte’s pronouncement that “no person who falls in line would go home unvaccinated.” “Should lines go long, LGUs can extend the operation of the vaccination sites, even if it goes late at night,” Galvez said during Thursday’s “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.”

What is important is we vaccinate our constituents and we protect them from the incoming Omicron variant,” he added.

The government has scheduled a second three-day NVDs on Dec. 15 to Dec. 17. No announcement has yet been made whether those dates will be working holidays.

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