Health reform advocate laments slow vaccination rollout

Published October 22, 2021, 1:42 PM

by Gabriela Baron

A health reform advocate on Friday, Oct. 22, lamented the slow pace of vaccination rollout in the Philippines,


Former adviser to the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19, Dr. Tony Leachon said the government’s new target of vaccinating 1.5 Filipinos daily is a “stretch,” considering the country’s current average inoculation rate.

“It would be a stretch considering hindi tayo nag-a-average ng more than a million. Hirap na nga for 500,000 [a day] at nag-dwindle yan (we don’t average over a million daily. It’s already hard for us to reach 500,000 jabs per day and it has been dwindling),” Leachon said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

“There’s a distribution channel problem also in terms of the cogent facilities in the countryside, ang Pfizer ay kailangan natin ng cogent facilities (Pfizer vaccines need cogent facilities),” the physician continued.

Leachon said while the inoculation drive is “doing well” in Metro Manila as the vaccination rate already reached 80 percent, vaccine supplies in regions outside the National Capital Region (NCR) remain scarce.

“Deploying the vaccines in the countryside, particularly dun sa areas na mataas ang cases (in areas where COVID-19 cases are high), like Northern Luzon and Zamboanga Peninsula, or Negros will be a challenge,” he added.

“I don’t see it will be happening, if we have not achieved even a million, how can we achieve with the 1.5 million in a day? So it would be a stretch for the government to do that.”

Leachon also warned of expiring vaccine supplies and urged the government to fast-track the approval and release of guidelines for giving a third dose of COVID-19 shot for healthcare workers.

“This could be a good third dose for the healthcare workers and for those high-risk patients para hindi naman sya masayang (so vaccines will not be put to waste). So that particularly regulatory approval should actually be in place so that we can use that,” he added.

More than 400,000 Moderna vaccines purchased by the private sector are reportedly expiring in November 2021.

So far, the country has already received 93.66 million doses of vaccines, of which around 54 million doses have been administered nationwide.

Over 25 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated, while 29 million have received their first dose.