January 29, 2023

VACCINATION PROTOCOLS NEED RECALIBRATION

The government’s claim that the Philippines is second in Southeast Asia with the most number of vaccines administered is a misplaced interpretation of facts that tends to mislead those who are not aware of the real situation the country is in.
The truth is that in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is one of the slowest when it comes to vaccinating its eligible population to achieve herd immunity.
The fact is, the vaccination program has not been continuous because of the lack of available vaccines. There are weeks when health workers vaccinate thousands but there are weeks that none are being vaccinated.
The government’s projection is to vaccinate around 50 million to 70 million Filipinos this year but at the pace by which vaccines are delivered in the country, this might be difficult to achieve as majority of the supplies arriving in the country come from the Covax facility of the World Health Organization, and only a few of those bought by the national government have been delivered.
As the Philippines reaches the second month of immunization, only a fraction of the population has received the full shots of their vaccines.
In the Cordillera with 1.8 million population, around 18, 276 individuals were vaccinated for second dose and 48,000 others got their first dose of Sinovac or AztraZeneca jabs as of May 11. To achieve herd immunity in the highlands, at least 70 percent of the region’s eligible population should have been fully vaccinated.
Apart from lack of supplies, a bigger problem is the potential wastage as some vaccines are about to expire in June. To avoid this possibility, the government can negotiate with suppliers that vaccines to be delivered should not be nearing expiration date. If this is not possible, logistics and master listing from the barangay to municipal/city level should be improved.
For one reason or another, there are still those who have not signed up for vaccination. Those in charge in the enlistment of vaccinees should continue the information drive to convince more people to be vaccinated.
The government has the data which hospital or local government has the most need of the vaccines. By all means, vaccines that arrive in our airports should be delivered with dispatch to sustain the continuity of the vaccination program.
More vaccines are expected to arrive in the coming months. We hope that by then, there will no longer be issues on indemnification as it is expected that the czars assigned in the vaccination program has ironed this out.
Let us also hope that instead of the September target to reach herd immunity, we will be able to achieve it earlier so that the economy can also take off.
Gross domestic production has been adversely affected by the pandemic. The Philippines has been incurring trillions of domestic and foreign debts. We can no longer afford the health and economic costs of this pandemic.
The Covid-19 vaccines are a precious product nowadays, it should not go to waste.

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