A fellow of the OCTA Research Group said Wednesday prioritizing vaccination in the National Capital Region and its adjacent provinces, given the limited supply of COVID-19 shots, would help jumpstart the domestic economy.
Ranjit Rye said while this suggestion might incite complaints from other regions, he believed re-allocating the scarce supplies “spatially” – while still following the risk-based approach of
vaccinating health care workers first, then senior citizens, then people with comorbidities – would boost the overall fight against COVID-19.
“If we believe that if the pandemic is a snake in the country, the head is in the NCR and the Calabarzon. So if you cut the head off—I’m sorry if you’re a snake-lover—we believe that will have an impact on
the overall war against COVID. We’ll probably be able to open up at least the economy if we’re able to see the decline in these centers where the majority of the cases are,” he told ANC’s Headstart.
“If we do this, we might not achieve herd immunity, but we will achieve a situation of decline in cases and a possibility, a very good basis for opening up the economy,” he said.
The Department of Health said Wednesday COVID-19 survivors should be inoculated after recovery, or completion of treatment, as vaccination guidelines have been revised.
The DOH, in its memorandum 2021-0175, said the agency revised an earlier circular which says that recovered COVID-19 cases must wait 90 days before getting vaccinated.
“All vaccine recipients who contracted COVID-19 may be vaccinated after recovery or completion of treatment, whether for first or second dose, without restarting the vaccine dose schedule,” the DOH latest memorandum stated.
Earlier, the Vaccine Expert Panel had recommended that COVID-19 survivors be allowed to get an inoculation two weeks instead of 90 days from recovery.
On the other hand, the Philippine Heart Association has urged people with hypertension or heart disease to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
As of April 12, the Philippines has vaccinated over a million individuals belonging to the top three priority groups – health workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.
At the same time, the DOH said persons vaccinated against other diseases should only get their COVID-19 vaccine 14 days after their latest inoculation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier said that the vaccine series should routinely be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccine.
Meanwhile, for COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac Biotech, the interval between the first and second dose is 28 days, while for AstraZeneca, the allowed interval is from four to 12 weeks, according to DOH.
The country has so far administered a total of 1,139,644 COVID-19 vaccine doses as of April 11, according to Malacañang.
Of this number, 1,007,356 were given as the first dose and 132,288 people were provided as the second dose.
The Nayong Pilipino Foundation property in Parañaque City will be used as a vaccination site, the first big venue, to speed up the inoculation of Filipinos against COVID-19, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Wednesday.
Vergeire, in an interview on Unang Hirit, said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and the Department of Tourism have signed an agreement to utilize the area for the vaccination.
Vergeire said, aside from this, the government was working with the private sector for the possible use of other big venues as vaccination sites.
Galvez, on Tuesday, said the government was planning to use stadiums and coliseums as “mega” vaccination sites to reach the targeted four million inoculated Filipinos per month.
Galvez said a mega vaccination site, which is one of the three types of vaccination facilities that the government will set up, can accommodate up to 10,000 persons a day.
So far, the government only has medium-sized vaccination sites that can accommodate 5,000 to 6,000 persons daily, he added.
Galvez said, to help in the fast-tracking the vaccination program, the government needs 55,000 vaccinators in 5,000 to 6,000 sites nationwide.
The third type is the mobile and rural vaccination site, which aims to vaccinate people in far-flung areas.
As of April 11, more than 1.1 million individuals have been vaccinated in the Philippines.
In related developments, the Commission on Human Rights wants the inclusion of persons deprived of liberty in the priority list for coronavirus disease 2019 vaccination.
“Given the limited supply of COVID-19 shots in the country, fair access to vaccines, including who should be first in line, requires the government to define priorities based on the level of vulnerability to the virus,” lawyer-spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
The CHR argues that PDLs must be equally considered to be a priority population given the multitude of vulnerabilities they face inside detention facilities, she asserted.
“This is in consonance with the recommendation of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that governments have an obligation to provide vaccines for groups that are at high risk of contagion, such as incarcerated people,” De Guia said.
Meanwhile, flag carrier Philippine Airlines Wednesday shipped 149,600 doses of coronavirus disease vaccines as the government continued transporting the vaccines to the provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.
PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said their aircraft transported 44,400 doses of vaccines to Cebu, 28,800 doses to Iloilo, 20,400 doses to Cagayan de Oro and 28, 400 doses to Davao.
She said the Sinavac vaccines were stored and secured in PAL’s cold-storage facility at the International and Domestic Cargo terminal in Pasay prior to their flights to the regions.
PAL’s latest transport of vaccines to the Visayas and Mindanao came three days after 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines consigned to the Department of Health arrived via PAL Flight No. PR 361 from Beijing.
The Bureau of Customs, through the Port of Ninoy Aquino International Airport, processed and cleared the Sinovac shipment purchased by the Philippine government from China.
Customs NAIA district collector Carmelita Talusan said on April 9, 2021, the vaccines underwent pre-arrival clearance process through NAIA One-Stop-Shop and were cleared for release within 15 minutes.
“The Bureau of Customs has so far cleared and released over 3.02 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines imported by the Department of Health,” said Talusan.
She said the bureau is supporting the vaccination program of the national government by assuring the immediate processing of vaccines while protecting the border against fraudulent attempts to import unregistered vaccines and related medical goods.
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) is pushing for the inclusion of media workers in the government’s priority list of workers for COVID-19 vaccination, citing their essential role as frontliners in providing news to the public about the deadly virus.
In a letter addressed to Vaccine Czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, PTFoMS Co-Chairman and Presidential Communications Operations Office Sec. Martin Andanar, together with PTFoMS Executive Director Joel Sy Egco, made an appeal to include media workers among the A4 priority group that also includes public utility drivers, construction workers, vendors, priests, and frontline government workers.
According to Egco, “much like the work being done by our health workers in saving the lives of our countrymen, the Philippine media have been indispensable in the fight by bringing important and life-saving information to the people regarding the virus and the measures put in place to stop the disease pursuant to the guidelines and advisories issued by the IATF.”
President Rodrigo Duterte created PTFoMS through Administrative Order No. 1 with a dedicated mandate of protecting the life, liberty and security of media workers.
The order also enjoined all agencies of the government to provide full support and cooperation to PTFoMS in carrying out its mandate.