NTF COVID-19 pushes to focus vaccination in PH’s hard hit areas

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. elaborates on the need to prioritize hard hit areas in the country for Covid-19 vaccination. PCOO Photo

The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 is now pushing to prioritize key areas with economic and social importance in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program to prevent further surges and enable immediate economic recovery. 

This was proposed by NTF Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. in a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte aired over PTV and Radyo Pilipinas on Monday.

Galvez said the current constriction in global vaccine supply would affect vaccine deliveries and the government’s vaccine rollout.

Galvez said the government should concentrate in hard-hit areas last year such as  the National Capital Region, Region IV-A or the Calabarzon area, Central Luzon, Baguio City, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley and other areas.

He also said the prioritization should include Cebu City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and other areas in the Visayas with high active cases.

Meanwhile, Galvez said Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, Zamboanga City, General Santos City, Iligan City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, and Davao Region are the priority areas in Mindanao.

He said the government also needs to recalibrate its mass vaccination program and concentrate in immunizing 83 million of the country’s population instead of 110 million.

Galvez said if the government could achieve herd immunity in badly hit areas, it would give the country better chances for quick economic recovery and prevent possible surges in traditional and very vulnerable areas.

“We will target more or less mga 50 to 60 (percent) of population instead of 70 to 80 to 90,” he said.

The vaccine czar also said a total 4,040,600 vaccine doses were delivered to the Philippines.

He said China’s Sinovac will upscale its vaccine supply for the country, vowing to bring in 1.5 million doses instead of just 500,000 doses for its May 7 delivery.

Galvez said they are also negotiating with Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute for a monthly delivery of two million doses.

He added that they also have ongoing talks with the COVAX facility and the World Health Organization (WHO) for the delivery of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines totalling to 2.3 million doses.

Galvez said in his report that the government has distributed 3.7 million doses nationwide with 1.6 million Filipinos inoculated.