Galvez: General public vaccination ‘most likely’ to begin in May

THE government eyes vaccinating the general public against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) by May once the bulk of procured jabs from AstraZeneca and Moderna arrive in the country, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

With only about 1.1 million Covid-19 shots so far, the government’s vaccination drive that started on March 1 has prioritized the country’s 1.7 million health workers.

“Most likely, the massive vaccination will happen this coming May once the orders from AstraZeneca and Moderna arrive,” said Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19.

A total of 2,379,200 vaccine doses are expected to be delivered this March and 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca in May.

The Philippines is also slated to receive five to eight million doses of vaccines by May, which include private sector-procured vaccines, some 200,00 doses of Moderna jabs, and two million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac.

Galvez said that the NTF was drafting a proposal to adopt the Program Evaluation and Review Technique and Critical Path Method model, which would allow the government to simultaneously launch the vaccination of other priority sectors, particularly the economic frontliners, through the help of the private sector.

“We will target different sectors simultaneously para maiksi ang (so we can shorten the) time with maximum output,” the vaccine czar said.

Galvez said in FIlipino that once there is “full mobilization”, an increase in the rate of vaccination to 100,000 or even 250,000 a day is expected.

The priority groups for the vaccination were identified by the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group.

Under the vaccination roadmap, the government will facilitate the vaccination of individuals under the A1 to A3 priority groups.

A1 category includes frontliners from private and public health institutions; health professionals; non-professionals such as students, nursing aides, janitors; village health workers; and national and local government front-liners.

The A2 category covers senior citizens while falling under A3 are individuals with comorbidities.

The private sector will facilitate the inoculation of Filipinos under the A4 priority group, such as uniformed personnel and other essential front-liners.

“We will target different targets at the same time. For example, the A1 to A3 priorities will be targeted by the national government and local government units while the A4 priority will be targeted by the private sector,” Galvez said.

“So once their [vaccine supplies] arrive, the national government and private sector will simultaneously target the different allocated population. With that, the resources and capability of other stakeholders will not be stagnant,” he added.

A total of 292,677 out of the total 1.7 million medical frontliners in the country have been inoculated against Covid-19 since the government kicked off its national vaccination program.

The government aims to inoculate 70 percent of the total population, or about 70 million Filipinos, before the end of the year.

This will supposedly trigger “herd immunity,” a form of indirect protection when a sufficient percentage of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease.

On Friday, the Philippines tallied 7,103 new coronavirus cases, a record daily increase in infections. This pushed the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases to 648,066.