MANILA – Vaccination against coronavirus disease is vital in preventing the surge of Covid-19 cases in the country, a health official said Monday.
In an online media forum, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that health experts worldwide, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have described vaccination against Covid-19 as the “weapon against the continuous increases of cases”.
“Take Israel for example. When they did their vaccinations, even at the height of the surge in their area, bumaba po ang mga namamatay at ang mga kaso (the number of deaths and cases decreased), and that is a good example,” she added.
Israel is vaccinating its population faster than any other country since it began its campaign in December last year and its Covid cases and hospitalizations fell dramatically among people who were vaccinated.
In the Philippines, the first coronavirus shots were given to medical front-liners last March 1, opening a new chapter in the country’s battle against the pandemic. As of March 20, DOH data show that a total of 336,656 have been vaccinated.
However, the number of infections went up, with the highest single-day record of 8,019 reported on March 22. The DOH also noted an increase in the number of infections among healthcare workers.
A total of 1,154 healthcare workers were infected with Covid-19 from Feb. 1 to March 21. Of the total cases, one has died, 700 cases have recovered and 367 cases are still active.
Due to this scenario, the national government has decided to distribute all the available AstraZeneca Covid-19 jabs as first dose to healthcare workers in order to have a wider coverage of front-liners vaccinated.
Vergeire said healthcare workers who have already received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine would be able to get their second dose after several weeks.
“The decision to give all AstraZeneca vaccines currently na nandito sa atin para sa lahat ng healthcare workers ay mayroong strategies involved diyan. Unang-una, gusto natin mas makarating sa mas malawak na coverage tayo (in our country to all healthcare workers involve strategies. First of all, we want to achieve wider coverage) because of the increasing number of cases,” she said.
Before implementing such move, officials consulted with the WHO, which leads the COVAX Facility, assuring that the second batch of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive by end of March or early April.
“Having that kind of commitment coming from WHO, officials have decided that we can already give the first doses to as much as healthcare workers that we have to protect them because there is also this number of cases,” Vergeire added. (PNA)