News Release

Gov’t to widen immunization drive as more COVID-19 vaccines arrive

The government is considering a parallel vaccination strategy that will include senior citizens and service workers in addition to the mass inoculation being done to the nation’s healthcare workers, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Monday.

In his report to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during a meeting on government’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) intervention, Galvez said they are building the Vaccine Deployment Scenario with the help of the private sector, particularly the Ayala Group and the Custom Consulting Group. In this scenario, various groups will be designated to handle the vaccination of different sectors.

“So ito po ‘yong way forward po natin, Mr. President, na nakita po natin para po talaga mapabilis ang ating — to comply with your your guidance na magkaroon po na tayo ng general public na vaccination,” Galvez said.

Inoculating a portion of the country’s general public alongside frontline medical workers could potentially offer the nation better protection from the deadly coronavirus disease compared to the initial plan of vaccinating solely healthcare workers only, he explained.

Galvez, who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, also reported to President Duterte that other countries like the United States, Israel, and Indonesia have adopted such strategy by vaccinating the next “segments” even if previous segments are not yet fully immunized.

For instance, the US vaccinated 11 percent of its healthcare workers on the first month of vaccination drive before proceeding to inoculate essential workers, the elderly, and those with existing medical conditions.

Israel, on the other hand, first vaccinated 91 percent of its senior healthcare workers before inoculating 50 percent of the residents aged 55 and above; 40 years old and above; 35 years old and above; and 16 years old and above.

Likewise, Indonesia inoculated 98 percent of its healthcare workers before proceeding to vaccinate four percent of the elderly population; 15 percent of its public service workers; and essential workers.

In the Philippines, a total of 1,105,500 vaccine doses have been deployed, inoculating 369,049 or 21.71 percent of the country’s healthcare workers, said Galvez.

With a steady supply of vaccines, Galvez said the government can also implement simultaneous vaccination campaign, targeting to inoculate 500,000 to 1 million people per week in April or May.

The country expects to receive 2,379,200 vaccine doses of Sinovac and AstraZeneca in the first quarter of this year, he said, noting that by year-end Philippines will have received more than 140 million COVID-19 vaccine doses excluding the donations through the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility.

The Philippine government is negotiating the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Sinovac Biotech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, and Pfizer, he noted.

The Department of Health (DOH) has logged 8,019 new COVID-19 cases on March 22, bringing the country’s total number of infections to 671,792 with 577,850 recoveries and 12,972 deaths. PND