MANILA – The national vaccination program is now trained on surge areas outside the National Capital Region (NCR) with only 5 percent of eligible population already fully inoculated.
National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) medical adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa said the government is also expediting inoculation in Visayas and Mindanao, particularly those in the “Plus 8” areas — Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal.
“The areas in NCR Plus 8 are highly populated such as Region 4-A and Region 3. That’s where we will pour in more vaccines,” Herbosa said in a media interview during the arrival of 961,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 late Saturday afternoon.
Herbosa said 712,800 doses of the vaccines were procured by the government while the other 248,200 doses were bought by the private sector.
“We have started to distribute these vaccines to the other regions outside NCR with a small portion going to NCR areas for use as second doses,” he said.
Majority of the vaccines will be deployed to Region 3 (Central Luzon), Region 4-A (Calabarzon), and Metro Cebu.
NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. previously said the NCR’s vaccination tempo “is already nearing its saturation point” as over 64 percent of the target population are fully vaccinated while more than 84 percent have the first dose.
The Philippines has secured 20 million doses of Moderna vaccines this year, 13 million of which were purchased by the government and 7 million by the private sector.
Herbosa said that while some local government units (LGUs) have started their registration drive for the 12 to 17-year-old vaccination, it has not been allowed yet by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The country’s Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for the age bracket.
“However, we’re still vaccinating 18 years and up. I think the evidence outside, even the specialists are still saying we can wait until all the adults are vaccinated before we consider vaccinating the children,” he added.
Dr. Ma. Paz Corrales, also an NTF consultant, said the early registration will enable LGUs to determine the number of vaccine doses they will need.
“We are awaiting the recommendation of our vaccine and public health experts regarding this matter, but the NTF along with Metro Manila mayors, have started preparations for this expansion,” Galvez said. (PNA)