The Philippines is aiming to fully vaccinate at least 99 million individuals before the term of President Duterte ends next year.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III expressed optimism that the government will reach its goal of fully vaccinating 54 million Filipinos by the end of 2021.
“I’m confident that we will be able to achieve this at the rate we are going and we have proven in the first three days of massive vaccination rollout—and I hope this will pave the way for us to achieve the second milestone which hopefully we will be able to accomplish early first quarter of next year—and that is reaching 77 million Filipinos with completed jabs all over the country,” he said in an event on Thursday, Dec. 9.
“And the third milestone of course—as the President’s marching order has been for us to inoculate no less than 90 percent of the Philippine population which is equivalent to about 99 million Filipinos before the end of the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” he added.
Importance of vaccination amid Omicron threat
Duque reiterated his call to the public to participate in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination as vaccines will help prevent “severe to critical COVID infection, hospitalizations, and deaths.”
“Pinapakita na ang hindi bakunado ay may tsansa (Studies have shown that unvaccinated people have)—two times (the) chance or risk of contracting severe to critical COVID infection and almost three times that an unvaccinated individual may die, especially those belonging to A2 [senior citizens] and A3 [immunocompromised],” he said.
The Health chief said that vaccination is an important tool especially amid growing concerns about the Omicron coronavirus variant.
“It is important in everyone’s minds here and the whole country… we cannot and we can never underestimate the virus because of its sheer potential for mutations….Now we are under the threat of the Omicron variant. But it gives us some consolation that the very limited stream of information that comes our way seems to show that the Omicron variant, mukhang mild (causes mild disease),” he said.
“[I hope] Omicron will not lead to serious and severe critical COVID cases because I think we can no longer afford another spike, surge…Talagang pinaluhod ng COVID ang ekonomiya ng buong mundo at lalong-lalo na ng Pilipinas (COVID has really brought the economies of the different countries in the world and especially the Philippines to its knees) ,” he said.
Still follow health protocols
Duque also reminded the public that even if they are already fully vaccinated, they still need to adhere to the basic health protocols.
“Ang laki ng tulong at ang bigat ng halaga ng ating bakunahan. Pero, hindi tayo pwedeng magpakampante na dahil tayo ay nabakunahan na ng kumpleto, yung iba nakatanggap na booster dose (Vaccination is a vital component in our response. However, we cannot be complacent just because we have been completely vaccinated or some already received a booster dose),” he said.
Duque said that vaccines alone are not enough to defeat the pandemic. Vaccination should still be coupled with compliance to minimum public health standards. “It is very important that we have two components of our major pandemic response,” he said.