Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccination effort stalls as 100 million doses remains unused
Given the sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines in the last week, it is imperative more than ever before for people to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The Philippines’ vaccine supply problem ended months ago.
Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, special medical adviser of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, said last December 31 that the country has already received 210 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
In other words, the Philippines has already enough vaccine supply to essentially cover everyone eligible to receive a COVID-19 jab. However, only 50.6 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated as of January 4, 2022 according to the Department of Health’s National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard.
That is less than half of the country’s estimated total population of 110 million. And that figure is way short of the target for herd immunity, which can be achieved by vaccinating 70-80% of the target population.
It can be recalled that as of December 2021, the DOH has approved vaccinations for minors aged 12 to 17 regardless of the brand as long as its with parental consent while children 5-11 can be vaccinated with Pfizer exclusively.
If that is the case, why is it that the goverment’s COVID-19 vaccination effort slowing down? It is possible that in some areas, local government units are not able to increase their capacity to vaccinate more people each day because of workforce and logistical issues. In late November, the Philippines had to lower its vaccination target from 15 to 9 million during the designated National Vaccination Days because of the shortage in the supply of syringes.
There’s also the problem of vaccine hesitancy, although the situation is probably not as worse as in the United States and Europe where vaccine mandates are met with protests and legal challenges. It is possible that some hold-outs might be forced to get vaccinated because of the restrictions on what they can do in public being imposed by local government units.
The public can do its part by persuading people within their respective families and extended social circles that vaccines are free, safe, and effective. While it is not a guarantee that people will no longer contract COVID-19, it is still our best protection from being hospitalized and dying. It is also an act of compassion for people with pre-existing medical conditions like senior citizens.