The government is targeting to vaccinate at least 1.8 million seniors nationwide during the fourth wave of the “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” national vaccination drive this week, a Department of Health official said on Sunday.
Health Undersecretary and National Vaccination Operations Center chairperson Dr. Myrna Cabotaje said Bayanihan, Bakunahan 4 would push through on March 10, 11, and 12, and would include homes and workplaces this time.
The priority for the fourth round of nationwide inoculation drive would be senior citizens who have not yet completed their primary dose series and those set for booster shots.
“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,” said Cabotaje.
Cabotaje said the inoculation in LGUs slowed down the past week, having only about 300,000 individuals inoculated compared to the previous one million to 1.5 million individuals.
Cabotaje said some people were also losing the sense of urgency when it came to booster shots.
She said they would 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.
She said the government would focus on administering booster shots for areas that have already reached the 70 percent target population, and primary series for areas with low vaccine rates.
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.
In related developments, Antipolo City and Light Rail Transit Authority have stepped up the COVID-19 vaccination drive at Line 2’s Antipolo station from Mondays to Saturdays starting March 7 from the initial two-day schedule.
To encourage more vaccinees, LRTA provides a free one-day unlimited pass to those who will avail of primary or booster shots at any LRT-2 vaccination sites.
The Antipolo station, Line 2’s easternmost terminal and the first station outside Metro Manila, is strategically located as a point of convergence of passengers coming from Rizal province.
The Cubao station in Quezon City will also start giving free COVID-19 jabs on Mondays only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Manila’s Recto station vaccination will still be available every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We are expecting more vaccinees to ensure the safety and protection of our commuting public,” LRTA Administrator Jeremy Regino said.
Meanwhile, independent monitoring OCTA Research Group on Sunday urged the public to continue following health protocols and get booster shots if eligible, warning of a possible resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the next months.
The country has been reporting fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the past few days but “things can still change,” said OCTA fellow Guido David.
“Technically, we can say the worst is over for now but things can still change,” David said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
“Maybe by April or May, we are vulnerable again,” he said, explaining that the country usually experiences a surge after every three months.
The Philippines logged on Sunday 870 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 3,667,542.
The DOH also reported 144 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 57,023.
Active cases stood at 48,793, of which 401 are asymptomatic; 44,131 are mild; 2,693 are moderate; 1,279 are severe; and 289 are critical.