MANILA, Philippines — The National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, and Laguna – collectively called NCR Plus – will get the highest allocation of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that were delivered to the country over the weekend.
In an online briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said a quarter of the additional two million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines will be distributed in Metro Manila followed by areas in the Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions.
“Nasa NCR Plus bubble po yung pinakamataas na alokasyon dahil alam naman po natin yung focus natin so we can be able to have herd containment here in this epicenter of this disease,” she said.
The health official said the allocations have been prepared and the vaccines will be distributed starting Monday.
“Nagawa na yung allocation list and ready to deploy na tayo starting today,” she said.
Other regions will also receive AstraZeneca vaccines but Vergeire did not specify the allocation breakdown.
The additional doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility arrived in the country on Saturday.
The fresh vaccine supply was delivered after Philippine health authorities announced last Friday the official resumption of AstraZeneca vaccine administration for eligible populations.
The DOH previously suspended the use of AstraZeneca vaccines following the recommendation of the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to temporarily halt its use on persons below 60 years old after reports of “very rare” cases of Vaccine-Induced Thrombosis and Thrombocytopenia (VIIT).
VITT is a very rare condition of blood clots associated with low platelet counts that can occur 4 to 28 days after receiving a viral vector vaccine such as AstraZeneca, the DOH said.
“After discussions with the DOH All Experts Group and the Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine (PCHTM), it was concluded that there are currently no known risk factors for VITT and that the benefits of receiving the vaccine against COVID-19 still outweighs the risk,” the department said in an earlier statement.
The DOH, however, said that specific guidelines and measures will still be enforced to mitigate the risks of vaccination.
Healthcare workers (HCWs) in vaccination sites will also be trained to detect and manage possible symptoms of VITT and refer them accordingly to the appropriate health facility for definitive workup and management.