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Gov't targets to vaccinate 1.8M senior citizens in 4th Bayanihan, Bakunahan

The government is eyeing to vaccinate at least 1.8 million senior citizens all over the country during the fourth wave of the "Bayanihan, Bakunahan" national vaccination drive this month, a Department of Health (DOH) official said Sunday.

In a Super Radyo dzBB interview, Health Undersecretary and National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) chairperson Dr. Myrna Cabotaje said Bayanihan, Bakunahan 4 will push through on March 10, 11, and 12, and will include homes and workplaces this time.

Priority for this round of nationwide inoculation drive will be senior citizens who have not yet completed their primary dose series and those set for booster shots.

“Ang total na second dose, ‘yung makamit na second dose ng ating A2 o senior citizens, tsaka mga booster, naglalaro sa 1.8 million ang tinitignan nating kayang kayang gawin dapat ng ating mga local government units (LGUs) katuwang ng lahat ng ahensya at private sector,” Cabotaje said.

[We are looking at vaccinating around 1.8 million A2 or senior citizens with their second dose or booster shots, which we expect the LGUs to achieve in coordination with all agencies and private sector.]

Cabotaje said on Saturday that the inoculation in LGUs slowed the past week, having only about 300,000 individuals inoculated compared to the previous one million to 1.5 million individuals.

She said some people are also losing the sense of urgency when it comes to booster shots.

Cabotaje stressed that they will ramp up the vaccination for primary series and booster shots before the campaign period starts for candidates for the House of Representatives and local elective posts on March 25.

“From now up to that time, bilis-bilisan natin. Ang gagawin nating estratehiya starting with our NVD part 4 ay mas contextualized at granular ika nga. Ngayon, aaralin natin ano ba ang sitwasyon ng mga barangay, ng ating munisipyo, ng ating probinsya. Saan ba siya nagkukulang?” she said.

[From now up to that time, let's ramp up the vaccination. The strategy we will do starting with our NVD part 4 is more contextualized and granular. Now, we will study the situation of the barangays, municipalities, and provinces, and determine what is lacking there.]

She said the government will focus on administering booster shots for areas that have already reached the 70% target population, and primary series for areas with low vaccine rates.

Cabotaje then assured that the country has enough vaccine supplies, having even exceeded the vaccine donations by other countries.

“We have enough stocked vaccines. Ang kulang po tayo ay ‘yung [pang] five to 11 [years old]. Halos five million [doses] pa lang ang dumadating. Fifteen million [doses] po ang inorder natin and we are adding additional vaccines later. In tranches, hindi naman sabay-sabay ang dala niya. We will also need Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for our 12 to 17 [years old], kasi ayon lang naman ‘yung may EUA (emergency use authority),” she added.

[We have enough stocked vaccines. What we lack now is vaccines for those aged five to 11. Only about five million doses have arrived and we ordered 15 million doses and more later. They arrive in tranches. We will also need Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for our 12 to 17 year olds, because they are the ones with EUA.]

The government is eyeing to fully vaccinate 77 million Filipinos against COVID-19 by the end of March, and 90 million by the time President Rodrigo Duterte steps down from office on June 30.

The DOH logged 941 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, bringing the nationwide COVID-19 tally to 3,666,678.

Of this number, 49,374 are active; 3,560,425 recovered; and 56,879 died. —KG, GMA News