MANILA: The Philippines is inoculating the highest number of people against COVID-19 every day, topping the list of major ASEAN nations with its vaccination program, Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., the country’s vaccine chief, has said.
In his presentation, made during President Rodrigo Duterte’s address to the nation late on Monday night, Galvez added that the Philippines had crossed the five million mark of COVID-19 vaccines administered on Friday, in line with the government’s ambitious mass immunization program.
“We’ve tripled our outputs in March and April, where we vaccinated only one million in 40 days. Now . . . even before May ended, we have vaccinated three million (people),” Galvez said, adding that the Philippines had posted a one-million-per-week vaccination rate for two consecutive weeks.
As of May 30, a total of 5,180,721 doses had been administered. Of these, 3,974,350 people have received the first dose, while 1,206,371 have been vaccinated with both doses.
This equates to more than one million people who had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, he said.
“The Philippines has achieved the highest output . . . among the five largest ASEAN countries,” he said, referring in part to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
“That means we have the most number of jabs given each day . . . We have surpassed Thailand and Indonesia in terms of jabs per day,” he said.
According to official data, he said, the government now administers up to 150,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine daily.
Galvez said they also “expect the country’s vaccine supply to stabilize by July,” as the COVAX facility — a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines — has committed to providing a steady supply of more than two million doses every month.
He also discussed US President Joe Biden’s decision to share 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with other countries, with the Philippines marked as one of its top-priority recipients.
The business sector, Galvez said, was also ready and committed to manufacturing more vaccines.
“The number of operational vaccination sites is based on the current supply of vaccines in the country. Once additional supplies arrive, the number of active sites will increase, and our vaccination pace will ramp up,” Galvez said.
He said that the government aimed to increase its daily vaccinations to 500,000 a day in the third quarter of 2021 and then to 740,000 vaccine shots daily by the fourth quarter to reach herd immunity targets.
On Tuesday, Galvez said in a forum that the Philippine government continues to recalibrate its strategies to address vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos and is working closely with the private sector in developing a post-COVID-19 strategy to protect more lives and fast-track the nation’s economic recovery.
“From targeting individuals, we are now shifting our focus to families, which is the foundation of our society. We believe that word-of-mouth from trusted family members could help to positively influence the general public’s perception about our vaccination program,” he said.