More than two million people in the Philippines received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 500,000 are now fully protected after receiving two doses, the Department of Health said Wednesday.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje revealed that 2,539,693 doses had been administered in 1,047 active vaccination sites nationwide as of May 11.
A total 2,025,038 people have received their first dose, 1,195,381 of whom are health workers, 466,899 are senior citizens, 353,842 are persons with comorbidities, and 8,916 are essential workers.
Among the 514,655 fully vaccinated individuals, 355,242 are health workers, 25,070 are senior citizens, and 134,343 are persons with comorbidities.
Cabotaje said 23 percent of 1.5 million health workers included in the vaccination master list had not yet been inoculated.
She also said only 6 percent of 7.7 million senior citizens registered for vaccination have received a jab. Majority of the vaccinated elderly are in COVID-19 hotspots Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon.
Earlier in the day, Cabotaje said the bulk of the latest shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines will be used as a first dose ahead of their midyear expiry.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III vowed that no AstraZeneca doses would be wasted.
The Philippines aims to inoculate 50 million to 70 million people this year.
Meanwhile, the Philippines posted 4,842 additional COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as the country began rolling out its first doses of Pfizer jabs sourced from the vaccine-sharing platform COVAX.
The Department of Health noted that the day’s relatively low number of fresh cases was due to the “low testing output” from accredited laboratories on Monday.
In related developments, the Philippine government should expedite its coronavirus vaccination efforts and tap the help of the private sector, before these vaccines expire, a former adviser to the government’s coronavirus task force said Wednesday, as millions of vaccine shots near expiration.
The government “should just give the stocks that will expire in June to the competent private sector then let them do the vaccination,” Dr. Tony Leachon, a former member of the Philippines COVID-19 panel said.
The Philippines’ roll out of COVID-19 vaccines has been “super slow” in the past week, Leachon lamented, citing Philippines’ daily average rate of vaccination.
· May 3 — 33,039 per day
· May 4 — 36,343 per day
· May 5 — 40,542 per day
· May 6 — 48,687 per day
· May 7 — 56,361 per day
· May 8 — 64,900 per day
· May 9 — 62,654 per day
“Average rates of vaccination in the past 7 days: super slow,” he said in a tweet.
So far, the Philippines has vaccinated 2.4 million Filipinos, mostly senior citizens, persons with comorbidities, and health workers.