THE Philippines has received an additional 2.279 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) from the Covax Facility.
The vaccines, which arrived at around 10 p.m. Thursday, June 10, 2021 via Air Hong Kong, brought the total number of doses delivered to the Philippines to 12,608,210.
The National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, in a Twitter post, said Metro Cebu and Metro Davao will each get 210,600 doses. The rest will be deployed to the NCR Plus, which consists of the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
In a joint statement, the Department of Health (DOH), World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines and Unicef Philippines said the vaccines will be administered to those who are not fully vaccinated and those belonging to priority groups A1 (healthcare workers), A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (persons with comorbidities).
Prioritizing these individuals, who are most exposed and at risk of severe disease, will ensure the prevention of overwhelming healthcare facilities and reduce the need for implementing more stringent quarantine measures while guaranteeing smoother economic revival, they said.
“We will use these vaccines among our A1 to A3 priority groups. If we don’t vaccinate them, we will encounter the same packed emergency rooms, unavailable intensive care units, and even hospital beds during the next surge,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
He urged those who belong to these groups to get vaccinated by registering with their local government units (LGUs). Those who have received their first dose were encouraged to get the second dose.
“While the DOH and the local government units have been making significant progress in vaccinating our healthcare workers, prioritizing the elderly and those with underlying health conditions is essential and needs to be accelerated, ” said Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines.
“Given the surge in cases in some regions, it is urgent to achieve high vaccination coverage in these A1 to A3 groups to protect those at risk of severe disease and death. WHO urges the National Task Force and the local government units to establish mechanisms to increase accessibility to vaccination of the healthcare workers and elderly across the country,” he added.
The Philippines previously received 193,0500 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from Covax aside from the 2.556 million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
“The additional 2.279 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are definitely a huge step that would contribute to our joint effort to overcome Covid-19,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, Unicef Philippines Representative.
“The sooner we address the pandemic’s severe and widespread impact on public health and well-being, the sooner we are able to strengthen primary health care services for all, especially children,” she added.
The government also started vaccinating the A4 priority group, which consists of private sector workers who are required to physically report to their workplaces, government employees, and self-employed individuals and informal sector workers who must go out for work.
Even when fully vaccinated, the public is urged to continue adhering to minimum public health standards and other safety protocols such as physical distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, and avoiding crowds, close-contact settings and confined spaces. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)