We get upbeat as we encourage those who have thus far chosen to stay away from the vaccination areas designated by local government units to take advantage of another three-day nationwide round of anti-COVID-19 vaccination drive starting December 15.
This, after 7.6 million individuals were inoculated during the first round which ended earlier this week – more than 2.71 million individuals on Monday, 2.46 million on Tuesday, and 2.45 million on Wednesday under the National COVID-19 Vaccination Days program.
While the reports are not yet complete, per Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, authorities are happy this is more than twice the government’s daily vaccination rate.
And with the latest variant Omicron, first detected in South Africa, raising a surging threat across the continents, there is indeed a need to take advantage of the government’s vaccination rollout campaign to, hopefully, speed up the attainment of herd immunity.
The call was made by the National Vaccination Operations Center on companies to excuse their employees who would participate in the extended national vaccination drive against COVID-19.
But NVOC chairperson Cabotaje, at the Laging Handa briefing, said employees would no longer be excused from work during the next round as President Rodrigo Duterte only proclaimed November 29 to December 1 as the Bayanihan, Bakunahan National COVID-19 Vaccination Days.
Under Proclamation 1253, public and private sector employees may get vaccinated during these days without being marked absent from work, provided they present proof of getting vaccinated during these days.
The high willingness to get vaccinated in the different regions has been a good reason to extend the vaccination days – and the reluctant population should take note – which certainly will help health authorities to sustain the enthusiasm of the public in getting themselves vaccinated.
The government aims to fully vaccinate 54 million by yearend to achieve population protection against the virus.
Of the 7.6 million vaccinated in the three days this week, 85 percent received their first dose, 3 percent received booster doses, while the remaining were minors and those who received their second doses.
We also have our hand for health authorities’ efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines set to expire in December 2021 and January 2022 to areas that have registered high uptake rates.
We understand these will be distributed to fast-consuming areas, and then authorities will deploy some to more areas so they can be administered as first doses.
Cabotaje said they had requested provinces and municipalities to deliver vaccines that were supposed to expire on November 30 to the regional offices of the Department of Health.
Cabotaje previously said the DOH was investigating the vaccines that were distributed to local government units but were not used during the three-day national vaccination drive.
“We will check if they can still be used by looking at the shelf life,” she said, adding “We will see what we can do with the remaining vaccines that were supposed to expire [on] November 30. These are mostly AstraZeneca vaccine doses.”
It is also gladdening that the government will start administering COVID-19 booster shots to all fully-vaccinated adults today, December 3.
“Those who have completed their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines can be inoculated with the following brands regardless of which vaccines are taken in the first two doses,” the DOH said on Facebook.
Brands to be used are Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik, and Janssen.
The government at present administers boosters only to those under the A1 category (frontline healthcare workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (adults with comorbidities).
“The National Vaccination Operations Center will issue operational guidelines on its implementation,” the DOH said.
The Philippines began the inoculation of seniors and immunocompromised individuals with boosters shots on November 22 while healthcare workers started receiving booster shots on November 17.
Booster shots are given when immunity is starting to go down after several months since receiving the vaccine.
The development comes as the Philippines prepares for the possible entry of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that is said to be more transmissible.