Gov’t adds 10 cities in vaccine priority list

Published June 24, 2021, 11:15 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Ten additional highly urbanized cities will gain priority for coronavirus vaccine access due to the surge in cases of infections, Malacañang announced Thursday.

One million doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines arrive at NAIA Terminal 2 in Pasay City on June 6, 2021. (Photo courtesy of National Task Force Against COVID-19)

These places, namely Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Cagayan de Oro City, Baguio City, Zamboanga City, Dumaguete City, Tuguegarao City, General Santos City, Naga City, and Legazpi City, will receive vaccine supply in a bid to stem the outbreak, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Prior to the expansion, the government has initially distributed COVID-19 jabs in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal. More than 2. 2 million people have so far been fully vaccinated.

“Ang naging basehan ay ang tumataas nilang mga kaso or surging cases, ang kanilang pagiging highly urbanized at dense environment, at kanilang kontribusyon sa regional or national economy (The reasons are the surging cases, highly urbanized and dense environment, and contributing to national economy),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, June 24.

“Hindi po natin sinasabi na less important yung ibang mga lugar, kaya lang importante po talaga para makamit ang containment sa buong Pilipinas, na macontain natin kung saan talaga matataas ang kaso ng COVID to begin with (We’re not saying the other places are less important. But it is important that in order to attain containment in the entire Philippines, we must contain the virus in areas with high cases of COVID to begin with),” he added.

READ: No reason to dillydally vaccine distribution in provinces, Duterte tells gov’t task force

The health department reported an additional 6,043 cases of COVID Thursday, that pushed the total to 1,378,260. The country’s death toll has reached 24,036. Authorities earlier expressed concern that many cases of infections have recently been detected in some parts of Visayas and Mindanao.

More than 16.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, including the latest shipment of 2 million doses from Sinovac, have already arrived in the country.

The government earlier set a target to vaccinate up to 70 million adult Filipinos to achieve herd immunity before the end of the year. The limited supply prompted the government to set a lower vaccination goal to attain “population protection” in National Capital Region Plus this year.

In a public address early this week, President Duterte ordered the government task force to speed up the distribution of vaccines especially in the provinces. He said with more vaccines expected to arrive, there was no reason to delay the distribution of the life-saving jabs.