PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has sounded the alarm over the possible failure of government to reach its target number of inoculated Filipinos against Covid-19 by year's end.
According to him, with jabs fewer than a million a day, the country is hard-pressed in achieving its goal of seeing at least 50 million fully vaccinated Filipinos by the time 2022 rolls in.
"We also need to ramp up vaccination rates in various LGUs (local government units) in order to reach our target of inoculating 50 million fully-vaccinated individuals by the end of the year. Ang plano natin (Our plan) is at the end of the year, 50 million sana (hopefully). We cannot reach this target if we'll... it will plateau at 400 or 500 [thousand] daily jabs," the Chief Executive said during his pre-taped Talk to The People public briefing the other night.
"Kailangan talagang walang hinto at 'yung mga bakuna na sana umabot na doon sa pinakamalayong lugar (It must be non-stop and for the vaccines to reach the farthest areas) and the provincial, city and municipal health officials will take over. Ang concern ko lang naman (My only concern) is that they...they would be able to preserve the integrity of the vaccines. That is very important," he added.
Duterte then gave a marching order to leaders of all LGUs to exert extra efforts in convincing their vaccine-hesitant constituents to get the Covid-19 jabs.
"Marami na tayong supply ng bakuna sa awa ng Diyos (By God's mercy we already have ample supply of vaccines). I urge the LGUs to come up with the most systematic and efficient way of finding out who among your constituents have not yet been vaccinated. Please do everything to convince them to get vaccinated," the President stated.
"I would like to appeal to the mayors and barangay (village) captains na magpasyal lang ng kalahating araw (go around for half a day). Tanungin niya kung sino pa ang hindi nabakunahan at sabihin niya kung merong scheduled na bakuna (Ask who else have not been vaccinated and tell when the vaccination schedule is)," he said.
To date, the total of administered doses is 55.7 million — 30 million of which are first doses while the rest are the second dose and single-dose vaccinations.
In order for the government to achieve population protection against the deadly respiratory disease, it plans "to vaccinate at the rate of 1 to 1.5 million in the next few days and weeks," Duterte said.
Vaccination of minors a priority
Accelerated vaccination of minors will be prioritized by the government, according to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar.
Galvez acknowledged the need to inoculate the younger demographic to ensure the safe return of students to schools and to further reopen the economy.
According to him, this plan was prompted by the positive response of parents to having their children participate in a pilot inoculation of the 12 to 17 age group.
From an initial eight hospitals, Galvez noted, there are now 26 hospitals serving as vaccination sites for minors in the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila.
"Ano pong importansiya ng tinatawag nating (What is the importance of what we call) vaccination of children and students? Unang-una po (First of all), we want to protect our children from severe disease and hospitalization," he said during the pandemic task force's pre-taped public briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte also on Sunday, adding that around 17 to 20 percent of those hospitalized because of the Delta variant were children.
He also cited the government's wish to mitigate social risks among children, parents and the elderly.
WITH REPORT FROM CATHERINE S. VALENTE