COVID-19 vaccine shots administered in PH now at 50 million – NTF

Robie de Guzman   •   October 13, 2021   •   208

MANILA, Philippines – The number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the Philippines has reached 50 million, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said.

Citing data from the National Vaccination Operation Center (NVOC), the NTF said that a total of 50,066,590 doses have already been administered as of October 11.

Of this figure, a total of 23,360,489 individuals have been fully vaccinated or 30.28% of the country’s target population.

“This milestone comes at a time when our country’s vaccine supply is continuously arriving in bulk, and the entire government is focused on ramping up the vaccination program to ensure we inoculate as many people as possible in a faster and more efficient manner,” NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said.

“We welcome this development. It will serve as an inspiration to all of us, as we continue to expand the vaccine rollout to the general population and start the inoculation of our youth by Friday,” he added.

Galvez said that more than half a million vaccine doses have been administered to priority groups that include teachers, as well as government and private sector workers.

He disclosed that the government’s current priority groups will be re-categorized and integrated into the general population group.

“With the influx of our vaccine supply, it is also right to simplify our priority sectors to ensure we inoculate all the unvaccinated Filipinos,” Galvez said.

“Our challenge right now is generating greater demand among our people. And the best way to do this is to vaccinate all Filipinos who are willing to get the jab,” he added.

Galvez said the expansion of the vaccine rollout to the general population is part of the country’s recalibrated vaccination plan.

While the government is pushing for an expanded coverage of its vaccine rollout, the vaccine czar stressed that priority will still be given to senior citizens and those who are highly vulnerable to the disease.

On October 15, the Philippines will begin the inoculation of 12 to 17 year-olds with comorbidities in eight selected hospitals in Metro Manila.

According to Galvez, the country now has enough vaccine supplies to inoculate roughly 1.2 million adolescents with comorbidities, of which around 144,123 are from the National Capital Region.

“The bulk of our deliveries this fourth quarter, as you have seen in our recent arrivals, are from Pfizer and Moderna. These are the same vaccines that will be used to inoculate our younger population. We already have the supply and we are ready for the rollout,” he said.

The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration has granted Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines with Emergency Use Authorization for the use of those within the 12 to 17 year-old age group.

Phl expands coverage of travel restrictions to 7 more countries due to Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ travel restrictions to control the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant had been expanded to include seven more countries.

In a statement released Sunday (November 28), Cabinet Secretary and acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) added Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy to the red list.

Already on the red list are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

“Inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to red list countries/jurisdictions/territories within the last 14 days prior to arrival to any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed,” Nograles said.

“Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List countries, jurisdictions, or territories,” he added.

The red list or areas considered as “high-risk” for COVID-19 will be updated after December 15.

Passengers who are already in transit and all those who have been to the red list countries/territories/jurisdictions within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines and who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of November 30 are exempted from this restriction.

They will, however, undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the seventh day.

Nograles further said that passengers merely transiting through the red countries, will not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country if they stayed at the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry by immigration authorities.

However, they will still be required to comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols. —/mbmf

Gov’t eyes possible return of face shield policy amid Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The national government is mulling over the possibility of bringing back the implementation of the face shield policy following the threats from the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron (B1.1.529), said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.

Galvez made the announcement on Sunday (November 28) after the detection of the Omicron variant in South Africa and other European countries, causing global panic and the tightening of restrictions.

“We will look at the possibility. ‘Yan ang inaano ni (Health) Sec (Francisco) Duque. He is pro na maibalik ang any protections na pwede natin gamitin kasi some people from WHO (World Health Organization) also believe that kaya nagkaroon ng magandang result sa Delta as to others because of the protection of face shield,” said Galvez during a virtual presser with reporters.

Galvez also said that no case of Omicron variant, which is considered to be more contagious, has been reported in the country as of yet.

President Rodrigo Duterte had allowed face shields to be optional for Alert Level 3, 2, and 1 but it is still required for Alert level 5 areas. —/mbmf

Duterte calls for creation of framework for vaccine certificate recognition

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has called for the creation of a framework for vaccine certificate recognition which will allow fully-vaccinated individuals, regardless of vaccine brand, to safely travel cross-border, the Presidential Communications team said Sunday (November 28).

“We need a framework on vaccine certificate recognition that is scientific, non-discriminatory, and compliant with WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines,” the President said.

The statement further said that the President’s sentiment comes after the decision of some countries, including the European Union, to only allow individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 using the four vaccines recognized by its European Medicines Agency.

“One must not withhold recognition on the basis of vaccines used when access to certain brands remain unequal,” Duterte said. —/mbmf

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