A three-day COVID-19 vaccination drive will again be held across the country this December in a bid to increase the booster uptake and inoculation rate among Filipino children.
Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire announced the drive on Tuesday, saying that they would prioritize kids aged five to 11, and those who have yet to receive their first booster dose.
“We have this coming December 5 to 7 the Bakunahang Bayan. Ito po ay mangyayari na lahat po, buong bansa, ay magkakaron nitong effort na ito. It’s a national activity kung saan we will focus more on our children 5 to 11 years old, at saka ‘yung atin pong mga mag re-receive ng first boosters,” Vergeire said at a press conference.
(This coming December 5 to 7, we will have the Bakunahang Bayan. This effort will be conducted all over the country. It's a national activity where we will focus more on our children 5 to 11 years old, and those who will receive the first boosters.)
Vergeire said that the government is intensifying its coordination with other organizations and stakeholders such as the Chinese community, malls, fast food restaurants, and private physicians to encourage their patients to get vaccinated when they visit their respective clinics.
Based on DOH's data, 73.7 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 20.9 million individuals have received their first booster shot.
Further, Vergeire maintained that the 31.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines—which were 12.5% of the total vaccines received by the Philippine government—-that were likely go to waste was still within the “acceptable level” of wastage based on the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Senator Pia Cayetano, the sponsor of the DOH budget, said during last Thursday's plenary deliberations that the estimated cost of the 31.3 million wasted doses was P15.6 billion.
The lawmaker said the WHO had found out that in low-income, middle-income, and even high-income countries, the wastage rate went up to 30%, prompting the body to set the acceptable rate for wasted vaccine doses at 25%.
This was echoed by Vergeire, saying that other countries experience 25% to 30% vaccine wastage due to several factors.
“Itong 12.5%, the Philippines considers this as being still within that level kung saan it is acceptable based on the experiences of other countries and based on the statement of WHO because of the evolving nature of COVID-19 and its pandemic,” she said.
The Health official also said that they will “not go against science or evidence” and allow the general population to receive the second booster dose just because there are expired or expiring vaccines.
Currently, the second booster shots are available only for frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.
More than 3.5 million Filipinos have received their second booster dose, according to DOH. — DVM, GMA Integrated News