The Philippines received on Thursday night, June 10, a total of 2.28 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine through the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX facility.
The vaccines will be administered to those under the A1 to A3 priority sector—the medical frontliners, senior citizens, and people with comorbidities, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
“We will use these vaccines among our A1 to A3 priority groups. If we don’t vaccinate them we will encounter the same packed emergency rooms, unavailable intensive care units, and even hospital beds during the next surge,” said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III.
The vaccination of healthcare workers, senior citizens, and those with underlying health conditions is “essential and needs to be accelerated,” said WHO Country Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe.
“Given the surge in cases in some regions, it is urgent to achieve high vaccination coverage in these A1 to A3 groups to protect those at risk of severe disease and death,” said Abeyasinghe.
“WHO urges the National Task Force and the local government units (LGUs) to establish mechanisms to increase accessibility to vaccination of the healthcare workers and elderly across the country,” he added.
The additional vaccines is “definitely a huge step that would contribute” in overcoming the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, said UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov.
“The sooner we address the pandemic’s severe and widespread impact on public health and well-being, the sooner we are able to strengthen primary health care services for all, especially children,” said Dendevnorov.
“We continue to advocate for equitable vaccine access to reach more of the vulnerable populations. We at UNICEF remain committed to do our part to ensure a healthier, safer, and more conducive environment for children and their families,” she added.
The country previously received 193,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the COVAX Facility last May 10.
Duque urged the public to participate in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
“If you are already in the priority group but have not yet registered with your local government unit, please contact your LGU to get vaccinated. I urge everyone to choose to be vaccinated when it’s their turn to protect themselves and their loved ones,” he said.