Lower target for COVID-19 vax day? DOH exec says it’s now hard to find unvaccinated people
MANILA, Philippines — The government has set lower targets for its National COVID-19 Vaccination Day this March because it is now difficult to track unvaccinated individuals as more and more people get immunized, a Department of Health (DOH) official said.
During the DOH Kapihan Session on Thursday, Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje who is also chair of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) said it will be harder to find candidates for the jabs now that 64 million individuals are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
DOH and NVOC are only targeting to administer 1.8 million shots during the fourth national vaccination drive set from March 10 to 12 — way lower than December’s edition which targeted nine million jabs and administered 9.9 million, and February’s five million targets.
READ: 6 million administered COVID-19 vaccine doses eyed in 3rd national vax drive
“Bakit mas mababa? Kasi alam naman natin, we have reached already 64 million (fully-vaccinated individuals), mahirap nang hanapin ‘yong talagang pagbabakuna. As Secretary (Carlito) Galvez was saying, we have reached the inflection point,” she told reporters in the virtual briefing.
“Mahirap talagang maghanap — hindi kagaya noon na walang bakunahan, madali lang mag-flock niyan sa mga mega vaccination sites. Ngayon ayaw na nilang pumunta sa malalaking areas,” she added.
READ: Gov’t vaccinates 9.9 million despite local problems
Earlier, Cabotaje said that the government has already administered 137 million jabs as of Wednesday, which means 64 million jabs each for the first doses and second doses, while 10.7 million are booster shots.
According to the DOH official, they are currently focusing on information to encourage more people to get the shots, while at the same time tapping barangay officials to do a house-to-house survey to know who the unvaccinated individuals are.
“Ang hahanapin natin ‘yong they don’t see the urgency, or kaya wala silang access sa mga areas and then if we can convince them, kaya importante, information muna, and then we have utilized our barangay captains, barangay officials, para magsuyod kung sino ‘yong hindi nabakunahan sa area, magbigay ng information, tapos susunod na ‘yong magbabakuna,” she said.
Of the target 1.8 million COVID-19 vaccines administered from March 10 to 12, 768,000 are booster shots, while 585,000 would be second doses or those who have missed their second dose. Another 524,000 would be for the A2 classification or the senior citizens.
Cabotaje said they are focusing on booster shots because areas like the National Capital Region have a huge vaccination coverage already.
“Ang ating booster targets ay 768,000, these are in areas — kagaya ng sabi ko — na medyo mataas na ‘yong vaccination coverage like NCR, so may target siyang booster. Hindi naman ibig sabihin hindi niya na gagawin ‘yong primary dose, may mga kaunti pa na hahanapin siya,” she said.
“But for the areas, even in (Region) 1, 2, and part of CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region), ang hahanapin ‘yong booster mo, so if 768,000. For the primary dose, specially those ‘yong mabababa ‘yong kanyang vaccination rates pa, mag-focus sila sa second dose,” she added.
While the country’s COVID-19 vaccination rate continues to go up — albeit at a slower pace — the rate of infection has steadily gone down, since the COVID-19 surge due to the Omicron variant.
READ: PH’s COVID-19 vaccination rate slowing down, says gov’t adviser
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said last Monday that the huge decline in infections is a result of strict compliance to minimum public health standards.
READ: Duterte key to fewer COVID cases in PH vs rest of SE Asia – Duque
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