The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, Oct. 25, urged local government units (LGUs) anew to follow the prioritization in their vaccination efforts to ensure that those in the vulnerable sectors will have access to vaccines against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, made the statement amid the plan to expand the vaccination of minors with comorbidities to provinces outside the National Capital Region (NCR).
“With increased availability of vaccines, we continue to urge the local government units in those regions to make sure that as they rollout vaccines, they ensure prioritization is also followed so that those most vulnerable groups are vaccinated,” Abeyasinghe said in a public briefing.
“This is critically important because we still believe that we need to be very careful with dealing with the ongoing Delta experienced in some other regions, and likely prioritizing vaccination of those priority groups in NCR, we need to do that in those regions that are continuing to see increase in number of cases if we are to save more lives,” he added.
Likewise, the WHO official stressed that LGUs must prioritize the vaccination of senior citizens and individuals with health conditions, while simultaneously inoculating other priority groups.
“But what is critically important is if we are to stop the hospitals from filling up, if we are to stop the deaths, we need to ensure that elder and comorbid populations are fully vaccinated,” Abeyasinghe said.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, recently announced that vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 will officially be rolled out nationwide on Oct. 29.
Access to COVID-19 jabs
Meanwhile, the WHO official expressed concern over the “inequitable situation” with regards to access to COVID-19 vaccines in areas outside Metro Manila and other major cities.
“[The] WHO has raised previously several times its concern that we do not see equity; we see [an] [i]nequitable situation with regards to access to vaccines in the provinces and the regions outside of NCR and the major cities, especially for the most vulnerable, the A2 and A3 groups, where coverage ranges from about 30 to 40 percent in many of the regions and provinces,” Abeyasinghe said.
As of Oct. 24, a total of 25,711,980 people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the country, according to the National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard.