Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Tuesday, June 15, that the government will “recalibrate” and prioritize the distribution of more COVID-19 vaccines to areas under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the Philippines’ second strictest lockdown level.
The Palace official announced this after President Duterte made the directive to bring more coronavirus vaccines to MECQ areas since these are lately experiencing high COVID cases.
“So magre-recalibrate na ngayon ang vaccine deployment task group, magre-recalibrate sila, ia-adjust namin. Tamang tama, dahil marami na ring bakunang dumating sa bansa lalung-lalo na ngayong buwan ng Hunyo (So the vaccine deployment task group will recalibrate now, they will recalibrate, we will adjust. It’s timely because the country will receive more vaccine doses this June),” he said over Teleradyo Tuesday.
The Philippines received one million Sinovac doses and 2.2 million Pfizer doses last week. It is also expecting the arrival of around 250,000 Moderna vaccines on June 25.
“Pumayag na po siya (Duterte) na ang ipapa-prioritize nga po sa vaccine deployment in terms of the number ay ‘yung mga areas na mataas ang bilang ng COVID-19 [cases] (He already agreed to prioritize the vaccine deployment in terms of the number, the areas where there’s a high number of COVID-19),” Nograles said.
The “newest directive” from Duterte also involved factoring in the risk classification of the areas where the vaccines will be delivered to address the rising surge of cases there.
This will be done “as soon as possible,” Nograles said, because it is the directive of the President during the Cabinet meeting on Monday night.
The Cabinet Secretary also assured that the recalibration will not lead to unequal vaccine distribution.
“Iyong pagdedeploy po natin ng bakuna is based dun sa iba’t ibang mga factors at nabibigyan naman po. Iyong distribution natin as equally as possible depende sa population at sa size ng area (Our deployment of the vaccines is based on different factors and we are giving enough. Our distribution as equally as possible depends on the population and the size of the area),” Nograles said.
On Monday, Duterte placed the following areas under MECQ from June 16 to 30: Santiago City and Cagayan in Region 2, Apayao and Ifugao in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Bataan in Region 3, Lucena City in Region 4A, Puerto Princesa City in Region 4B, Naga City in Region 5, Iloilo City and Iloilo in Region 6, and Negros Oriental in Region 7.
Also under MECQ are Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga del Norte in Region 9, Cagayan de Oro City in Region 10, Davao City in Region 11, and Butuan City, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, and Surigao del Sur in CARAGA.
The Visayas and Mindanao regions are showing a faster increase in infections daily, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
As of June 8, Mindanao logged 13,425 active COVID-19 cases while Visayas recorded 9,725 new cases, data from the DOH showed.