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COVID-19 vaccination of Philippine health workers to start Feb. 15

The Philippines targets to start coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccinations of frontline healthcare workers next Monday, February 15, as the government aims to inoculate the sector's 1.4 million individuals in a month.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said on Sunday the incoming initial batch of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech totaling 117,000 doses will cover workers included in the initial master list from hospitals across the country that will receive the first batch.

"Inaasahan nating magsisimula na tayo sa akinse... Sa katunayan, 'yung mga medical frontliner, kumpleto na po ang mga pangalan nila," according to a Sunday "24 Oras Weekend" report.

Among the first hospitals that will receive the vaccines are the Philippine General Hospital with 5,000 workers listed, along with the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, and the East Avenue Medical Center.

The World Health Organization said that 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive in the country in the second or third week of February, under the COVAX Facility.

Some 5.5 to 9.2 million doses of the vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca are expected to arrive by the latter part of February or early March.

"Inaasahan natin na lahat nung nasa paunang frontliners natin na humigit kumulang 1.4 million, hindi aabot ng isang buwan para matapos natin lahat ng medical frontliners," said Roque.

The Philippines targets to vaccinate some 50 to 70 million Filipinos from COVID-19 this year, with the country allocating some P73.2 billion for the procurement. The amount includes P40 billion coming from multilateral agencies, P20 billion from domestic sources, and P13.2 billion from bilateral agreements.

At present only Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca have secured the emergency use authority (EUA) in the Philippines.

For its part, the Department of Energy (DOE) assured that there was enough electricity supply for the storage of the vaccines which will need ultra-cold freezers amid the upcoming summer season.

"Tataas 'yung demand, pero sapat ang supply kasi natin. Unang una, sa ngayon pumapatak ng lampas 30% 'yung sobrang power o reserba," DOE spokesperson Felix William Fuentebella was quoted as saying in the same report Sunday. — Jon Viktor Cabuenas/DVM, GMA News