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DOH: NCR Plus LGUs can use reserved Sinovac jabs as 1st dose pending new deliveries

Local governments in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus bubble may now use their reserved stocks of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine as the first dose while awaiting supply replenishments from the national government, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said “this was already discussed among the Metro Manila Development Authority, Metro Manila mayors, and the vaccine cluster together with Secretary [Carlito] Galvez” to ensure continuous inoculations.

“That was part of the discussions and instructions that whatever you have reserved for the second dose, you may use it as a first dose for the other constituents because we will be providing you with additional vaccines,” she told mayors at an online forum.

“Hanggang hindi pa lang po dumadating ‘yung mga supplies na ibibigay natin sa kanila for replenishment of their stocks, they can use that para hindi natitigil ang bakunahan,” she added.

(They can use those [doses] while waiting for the supplies that we will give them for replenishment of their stocks.)

Metro Manila and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna make up the NCR Plus bubble which is under modified enhanced community quarantine until May 14, 2021.

Taguig Mayor Lino Cayetano, who also attended the forum, said this would mean 10,000 to 15,000 more doses initially reserved for the second jab may now be rolled out.

“That’s very very good news… Napakalaki ng epekto noon. Kami po magsasara na in two days ang mga vaccination center kung hindi po nagbigay ng announcement (That would have a big effect. We were supposed to shut our vaccination centers in two days if no announcement was made),” he said.

Several vaccination sites across Metro Manila earlier had to pause operations due to dwindling vaccine supplies. Mayors said the number of vaccine registrants in their cities had exceeded the number of doses available.

On Thursday, Sinovac completed the delivery of all 1.5 million doses purchased by the Philippine government for April. Vergeire said the distribution of the newly delivered doses is ongoing.

A similar push to use all doses as the first jab was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte for 525,600 AstraZeneca doses last month.

The DOH expressed hope that the next AstraZeneca delivery, which will be used as the second dose on those who have already received their first, will arrive before the end of May as the schedule remains uncertain.

Vaccination updates

Meanwhile, Cayetano said 34,098 Taguig residents had been vaccinated as of April 29.

Of this number, 9,567 are health workers, 11,488 are senior citizens, and 13,043 are persons with comorbidities.

A total of 2,271 people in Taguig have been fully vaccinated after completing both doses.

In Pasig, Mayor Vico Sotto said 31,191 residents had been vaccinated as of April 28, of whom 2,632 had already gotten two jabs.

The Philippines is still far from its target of vaccinating 70 million people this year, with only some 1.5 million individuals inoculated as of April 27. -MDM, GMA News