FILE PHOTO: National Task Force against Coronavirus Disease-2019 (NTF COVID-19) chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. PALACE FILE PHOTO / JOEY DALUMPINES
MANILA, Philippines — National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday admitted that achieving population protection against the coronavirus is now a challenge amid the havoc caused by Typhoon Odette.
The government is targeting to attain population protection by fully vaccinating 54 million Filipinos by year end.
“Napakalaki talaga ng devastation kay Odette (Odette’s devastation is really huge). Basically, talagang (really) it’s a challenge for us to push for 54 million. But we are still pushing for it because the Omicron is our greater challenge,” Galvez said during a visit to a vaccination site in Taytay, Rizal.
Also this day, the Philippines logged its third case of the Omicron variant from a returning overseas Filipino.
The country’s second national vaccination program was affected by Odette, which is now outside the Philippine area of responsibility, as it led to postponement of immunization activities in some areas where the typhoon traversed.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje earlier reported that the government administered 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from December 15 to 18.
She added that some typhoon-affected areas will commence with their vaccinations Monday while other local government units have yet to begin to pave the way to relief and rehabilitation efforts.
According to presidential adviser for COVID-19 Response Secretary Vince Dizon, the government will mobilize teams to enable vaccinations in evacuation centers.
“Hindi muna natin sila pine-pressure na magpabakuna dahil nga napakabigat nitong sinapit nila nitong mga nakaraang araw kaya bibigyan natin sila ng panahong maka-recover,” said Dizon.
(We are not pressuring them to get vaccinated because of the heavy impact that they faced these past few days, so we are giving them time to recover.)
“Pero nagmo-mobilize din tayo ng teams para sa areas na kayang [magbakuna], para pwede silang magbakuna sa mga evacuation centers. Pero i-prioritize muna natin ang relief, response at rehabilitation,” he continued.
(But, we are mobilizing teams for areas that can vaccinate, so they can be inoculated in evacuation centers. But, we will prioritize relief, response, and rehabilitation efforts.)
Dizon assured the public that despite the challenges, the government will exert all efforts to achieve population protection.
“We will try our best to hit the goal of 54 million. It’s not easy but we will keep on pushing. Give us a few days, we’ll give you what our estimated target should be by the end of the year,” he said.
As of December 19, the government has fully immunized 43,534,136 individuals.
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