The government is 12 million short of meeting its target of 54 million Filipinos fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by year's end, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said Wednesday ahead of the second three-day national inoculation drive.
This developed as the Philippines on Wednesday welcomed over 4.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses manufactured by AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, donated by different governments.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier in the day reported the first imported cases of the more transmissible Omicron variant in the country, just as Filipinos ramp up preparations for the holiday season.
"Our target is to reach 54 million fully vaccinated individuals. We have 42 million fully vaccinated so far, so we still have to fully vaccinate 12 million [people]," she said during the Laging Handa briefing.
Cabotaje made the announcement as the second round of the national vaccination event began, with the government eyeing to administer seven million COVID-19 vaccine doses. The vaccination drive has been postponed in some areas, however, due to sTyphoon Odette.
"The primary vaccination remains very important because that is the first battleground and it is our first layer of protection," she pointed out.
But with the target population in Metro Manila already fully vaccinated at this point, Cabotaje said that the region's target is to administer as many booster shots as possible.
Current guidelines only allow administration of booster shots six months after getting the second dose of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, and three months after the single-dose Janssen vaccine.
"We are confident that we will reach the seven-million target," Cabotaje said. "We have enough vaccines, and we will have enough for our booster shots. For shelf life, be rest assured all our vaccines are safe, effective and monitored by the Food and Drug Administration."
The Duterte administration is eyeing to have 77 million people fully vaccinated by March 2022 and 90 million by June 2022. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
Of the 4,126,500 newly arrived doses, 214,500 were AstraZeneca jabs donated by the British government. The shipment arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 via Emirates Airline flight EK332 around 4 p.m.
Another 856,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived at NAIA past 4 p.m. These were donated by the German government through vaccine-sharing platform COVAX Facility.
A second batch of the shipment is expected to arrive later in the day — around 10 p.m. — to complete Germany's donation of 3,696,900 Moderna jabs, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said.
Meanwhile, 3,055,200 more Janssen jabs donated by the Dutch government through COVAX have also been delivered. The shipment completes the Netherland's donation of 7,538,400 doses of the single-shot brand, portions of which started arriving Monday.
The newly delivered shots raise the country's vaccine stocks to more than 170.9 million doses, the majority or 123.2 million of which have already been distributed nationwide.
On Tuesday, the Philippines received a total of 8.24 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, all of which were donated by various governments.
Latest government data showed that at least 42 million individuals are fully vaccinated from COVID-19 in the country, while more than 55 million others have received their partial dose. A total of 853,500 people have also received their boosters.
Meanwhile, drugmakers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said on Wednesday a single booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate provided strong immune responses, preliminary data from clinical trials show a boost for the drugmakers after lagging the vaccine race.
The French and British partners said they expected more results of the late-stage Phase III study of their recombinant adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the first quarter.
They plan to file booster data with regulatory authorities following the Phase III results.