WITH the Philippines having received additional COVID-19 vaccines donated by the COVAX Facility, the Department of Health, World Health Organization and UNICEF continue to urge local government units to prioritize vaccination of senior citizens.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said the two million Pfizer vaccines which arrived Sunday were part of the 10 million doses which were co-procured by the US government with the COVAX Facility.
The latest arrival brings the country’s total doses to 64.3 million, with 15.5 million from the COVAX Facility.
“While the national government recalibrates its strategies in addressing the rising COVID-19 cases to a more targeted scheme, the local government units must also ramp up their COVID-19 vaccination, especially to the elderly population who are most at-risk for severe COVID-19 and even dying from it. We also thank the COVAX Facility for the additional supply of much-needed COVID-19 vaccines,” Duque said.
The Philippines has administered 41,247,552 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Sept. 18 with at least 4,261,633 fully-vaccinated senior citizens.
However, with over 8 million masterlisted senior citizens, the A2 priority group, have yet to receive the vaccine.
“With the country receiving the additional doses from the COVAX Facility, the Philippines has adequate vaccines to fully protect the elderly citizens or A2 priority group. We call for our local chief executives and regional health authorities to urgently complete the full vaccination of all the elderly and reduce further the loss of lives to the pandemic. This is the most ethical and rational use of vaccines, especially now that COVID-19 cases have been rising in many regions with low coverage of senior citizens. Any further delay in the vaccination of our elderly will cost us more lives, and lead to an overwhelming health system in affected regions and further harm to the economy,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO country representative said.
The COVAX Facility — co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the WHO, together with UNICEF — aims to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines, and guarantee fair and equitable access to these vaccines even with the scarce global supply.
With the call to maximize the benefits of available vaccines by prioritizing the vulnerable population, DOH, WHO, and UNICEF also urged the public, even the fully-vaccinated individuals, to continue wearing face masks, practicing proper hand hygiene, physical distancing, and ensuring ventilation whenever indoors.
By Lee Ann P. Ducusin and Cristina Lee-Pisco