4th national vaccine day may be the last
MANILA, Philippines — Instead of conducting nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drives, the government may just concentrate on areas with a low jab rate or those that have yet to fully vaccinate 70 percent of their target population and senior citizens.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, head of the National Vaccination Operations Center, made the statement on Tuesday as the government extended its fourth “Bayanihan Bakunahan” national vaccination campaign until March 18 to reach its target of 1.8 million individuals.
“We may no longer hold a national vaccination day. We will just focus on provinces that need help. We will focus our efforts there instead of having a general [vaccination drive] covering all areas,” Cabotaje said at the televised Laging Handa briefing.
According to her, after launching many activities to make COVID-19 vaccines accessible to the public, including mobilizing various resources and teaming up with the private sector and church, the government would now need to find and convince those who still refuse to get inoculated.
These included those who were reluctant to get the vaccine because they think they would not need it given their age or because cases were declining, Cabotaje said. Some, on the other hand, were scared of side effects.
So far, around 64.5 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with Cabotaje saying that the government aims to increase this to 70 million by the end of the month.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, said that the fourth Bayanihan Bakunahan national vaccination drive would run until March 18. It was originally planned for only three days starting March 10.
As of March 14, however, just 77.8 percent of the target had been reached with only 1,400,889 individuals inoculated.
She enumerated three factors that posed challenges in their vaccination drive: hesitancy, “ageism” and manpower.
Aside from the hesitancy of some individuals due to misinformation and misplaced beliefs, Vergeire said the gradual return of services not related to COVID-19 had reduced the number of health-care personnel deployed for the inoculation campaign.
—WITH A REPORT FROM KATHLEEN DE VILLA
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.