The Department of Health said Thursday the government will administer the first batch of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable groups.
Those who will be prioritized include healthcare workers, senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities, the DOH said.
This is in line with the conditions set by COVAX facility, the United Nations-backed international vaccine-sharing scheme, it added.
“Once additional doses are secured and available, prioritization may be expanded to other priority groups,” the DOH said in a statement.
The DOH said it was finalizing the guidelines on the use of the bivalent vaccines — modified jabs that target the Omicron variant and the original form of the virus.
“Rest assured that the guidelines shall be issued in time for the implementation of the roll-out of the vaccines in the country,” the DOH said.
The Philippines has secured an initial donation of around 1 million doses of Pfizer’s bivalent vaccines from the COVAX facility. The shots are expected to arrive in the country before the end of March.
Since the Philippines started its inoculation program in March 2021, more than 73.8 million or 94.54 percent of eligible population in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Of the figure, over 21.3 million have received their first boosters while 3.8 million have gotten their second boosters.
As this developed, lawmakers have welcomed the decision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. not to extend anymore the COVID state of calamity
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said the President’s decision was “well-founded on the best global and local health information available.”
“The President’s decision is consistent with the declaration of the World Health Organization that the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a global health emergency,” said Salceda, chair of the House committee on ways and means.
“We have long shifted to the endemic stage. PBBM’s decision makes it official,” Salceda added.
Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Ray Reyes, vice chair of the House committee on health, also welcomed the President’s decision.
“The President has just sent a strong message to the world that the Philippines is bouncing back from COVID-19 pandemic,” Reyes said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, however, aired concerns on the possible negative impact of the non-extension of the COVID state of calamity.
“As far as we are concerned, the COVID-19 pandemic situation has not been downgraded. The public health emergency still exists,” she said.