Jabs go full blast

Vaccination in Visayas, Mindanao gathers pace

The government’s vaccination program is seen to pick up as more vaccines are distributed especially in the Visayas and Mindanao, where the resupply of 500,000 doses of the CoronaVac vaccine will be deployed, the Department of Health (DoH) said.

The vaccines that arrived last Sunday will be given to health care workers in the two regions, according to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

An initial supply of 20,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine will arrive in the country this week as a “trial” delivery run before the arrival of 500,000 doses this month.

The country is expected to receive 20 million doses of Sputnik V within the year.

Vergeire said more large-scale vaccination sites would be opened to speed up the rollout of vaccines.

“Sa mga susunod na araw, atin pong bibilisan at palalawakin ang ating pagbabakuna (In the next few days, we will speed up and expand our vaccination rollout),” she said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

Among the vaccination sites that are being considered include the Nayong Pilipino site in Parañaque. The private sector offered some facilities as possible vaccination areas as well.

Out of the more than 3.5 million vaccines that have arrived, 1.1 million have been administered across the country. The beneficiaries include 900,000 frontline health care workers and around 100,000 persons with comorbidities.

Of those who got jabs, more than 24,823 had AEFI — adverse events following immunization — based on data.

With the United States stopping the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of reports of rare blood clotting, Vergeire said Janssen Pharmaceuticals should report to the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) possible incidents in relation to their clinical trials.

FDA Director-General Rolando Enrique Domingo said the agency’s own vaccine panel is now investigating the vaccine and may give its recommendation today, April 15.

Meanwhile, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday, the same brand that the private sector and local government units (LGUs) had procured through “A Dose of Hope.”

The initiative, led by Go Negosyo, has to date secured over 17 million doses of AstraZeneca for the private sector and LGUs.

The vaccines were purchased at their base cost of $5 per dose under the nonprofit program of AstraZeneca.

The first batch of 2.6 million doses is expected to arrive by the first week of June while the balance of 14.4 million doses for donor companies and other LGUs will arrive in July.

Concerns have surrounded the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, which was earlier banned in parts of Europe over blood clot scares.

This prompted the Department of Health and the FDA to temporarily suspend the use of the vaccine for persons aged below 60.

Concepcion expressed hope that the FDA would allow the greater majority of economic frontliners who needed the most protection to take the vaccines.

There is a “need and urgency to have as many people inoculated — not only for their own protection, but for the greater, overall health of our country. Let us be protected!” he said.
On Wednesday, the country posted 8,122 new cases of Covid-19.

This puts the total number of active cases at 173,047 and total overall cases at 892,880.
Also on Wednesday, Malacañang called for unity to stop the pandemic.

“Much more can be done, thus, we call on all sectors to unite and help the government in putting an end to this dreadful pandemic,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said in a statement.

Roque dismissed criticisms on how the government handled the pandemic, citing improvements on testing, contact tracing and vaccination efforts.

“Data show that the Philippines ranks third after India and China in terms of tests per million population, while in terms of total tests conducted, the Philippines is second after Indonesia among Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nation) countries, with more than
10, 421,636 tests conducted, as of April 5,2021,” he said.

“We have a weekly average of 52,565 tests from April 4-10, reaching a high of 63,839 tests conducted last April 8, 2021.”

Roque said the county has reached the 1-million mark in terms of total Covid-19 vaccines administered.

“We are the third highest in vaccine rollout in Asean, with 1.2 million doses administered,” he added.

With Catherine Valente and Keith Calayag