Local governments can start COVID-19 vaccination of poor residents using oversupply

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MANILA, Philippines – Local governments can now start immunizing their poor voters – but only with their oversupply, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday.

Under Secretary of Health Maria Rosario Vergeire said immunizing the poor should not lead to a shortage of vaccines for priority groups and reminded local government units (LGUs) that health workers, the elderly and those at risk should remain the priority at vaccination sites. .

“LGUs can [vaccinate the poor] because the guidelines are out. But we have to see how we can handle this without causing a shortage for other sectors, ”Vergeire told reporters. It was referring to the vaccination guidelines for frontline workers (category A4) and the poor (A5) set out in memo n ° 2021-0259 of May 31.

Vergeire said the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved expanding coverage for vaccines donated to the poor through the COVAX global sharing system. Previously, vaccines provided by COVAX had to be given only to healthcare workers (A1), the elderly (A2) and people with health problems (A3), the three groups most vulnerable to serious illness and death. due to COVID.

The DOH also urged local governments to improve their planning systems to avoid overcrowding at vaccination sites and to step up contact tracing to shorten the time to detection and isolation of cases.

Vergeire said experts estimated daily cases of COVID could be reduced by a third if those infected were isolated within five days of testing positive.

The DOH has calculated that it took an average of six to seven days for a person who has tested positive for COVID to be isolated, putting countless contacts of that person at risk of infection.


“If we don’t improve from the six to seven days (from detection to isolation), we cannot break the chain of transmission,” she added.

Still, the government was hopeful it could meet its goal of vaccinating enough Filipinos to protect the population this year, said Vince Dizon, deputy director of implementation of the National COVID-Task Force on Monday. 19.

Speaking at a press briefing by presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Dizon denied that the country was behind on its vaccination targets.

“[Since] many vaccines have arrived in the past week, we are confident that the number will increase in the coming days and weeks. And with the arrival of more doses in June and July, we see that number continue to increase. Hopefully we can meet our goal of 500,000 doses administered per day until we reach our goal for 2021, ”said Dizon.

Roque, citing the latest figures from the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center, said 12.61 million doses of the vaccine had arrived as of 6 a.m. on June 14. A total of 6.95 million doses have been administered.

Earlier, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said 70 million people needed to be vaccinated by the end of the year for the country to gain “herd immunity.”

This was lowered to “herd containment” in the third quarter, during which 25 million people are expected to be vaccinated. The government then changed its target to “protecting the population” after the vaccination campaign focused on the country’s economic centers – Metro Manila, its surrounding six provinces, Metro Davao and Metro Cebu – with a target of 60% of the population of the combined areas.


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