For most of the past year, the Philippines along with the rest of the world could only hunker down and endure as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe. Hope lay in various pharmaceutical companies and laboratories in various countries that were developing vaccines for the virus. These vaccines were introduced between late 2020 and early 2021, with vaccination programs in this country officially started by March. Due to limited vaccines however, government agencies were forced to classify recipients by priority, from front-line workers to the elderly and so forth. Over six months later however, strict prioritizing has loosened up.
The Philippine Star reports that as of this past Monday, October 11, vaccination against COVID-19 in the Philippines is now open to the general adult population, with walk-in visits to vaccine sites no longer requiring appointments. This was announced by the Department of Health (DOH) in a virtual government briefing by Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergere. She cites the now-sufficient supplies of COVID shots now available in the country, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. “We are announcing the start of COVID-19 vaccination on general adult population,” Vergere said. Seven COVID vaccine brands are already deployed for local vaccination use.
As of the latest tally, just about more than 50 million doses of COVID vaccine have been administered across the Philippines, with 26.7 million given as a recipient’s first dose and 23.3 million as the second and completing dose. General adult vaccination was given the go-ahead back in September 30 by the COVID Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). Nevertheless, even with the wider availability the DOH is still reminding local government units overseeing vaccine sites to maintain priority for senior citizens and recipients with medical comorbidities, as they remain highly vulnerable to severe cases of COVID that might also require hospitalization.
In addition to throwing open the door for all adults to get their shots against COVID, the DOH is also making preparations for a pilot program to test vaccination in minors aged 12 to 17. Should this pull through, then minors in that age bracket with co-morbidities will be grouped with their older fellow sufferers in the A3 priority classification. Other minors without those complications will be with the priority C classification. The A categories (1-5) covered front-liners, government leaders, seniors, co-morbid, and indigenous peoples while priority B (1-5) applied to teachers, government rank-and-file employees, essential business workers and OFWs.
Monday saw 8,292 new confirmed cases of COVID in the Philippines, adding to the total of 2,674,814 Filipinos who have been touched by the pandemic.
Image courtesy of Manila Bulletin