DOH says it's difficult to meet Covid-19 vax target as jab rate slows down

Published June 9, 2022, 3:06 PM

by Analou de Vera

Coronavirus vaccines have been prepared for distribution at a vaccination site in Manila on May 18, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

The Department of Health (DOH) said it would be difficult to reach the government’s target of fully-vaccinating 77 million Filipinos by the end of this month as the country’s vaccination rate slowed down.

“Sa totoo lang, mahihirapan given the numbers now. Parang mga 300,000 lang a week for the primary dose and the for the second dose, even lower ang weekly vaccination rate (Honestly, it would be difficult given the numbers now. It seems that only about 300,000 people per week are getting their [first] dose and the vaccination rate for the second dose is even lower),” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a recent online forum.

The initial target of the government was to fully vaccinate 90 million individuals by the end of June. Last April, National Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the government is lowering its target to 77 million.

More than 69.5 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated as of June 6, the Department of Health (DOH) said. Of this figure, only 14.3 million people received their booster shots. Over 40.8 million people are yet to be boosted, the DOH said.

Duque urged the next administration to further boost the country’s Covid-19 vaccination program.

“Kailangan nalang ipagpatuloy talaga ng susunod na administrayon (The next administration really needs to continue) to further ramp it up and achieve 100 percent of the 77 million target,” he said.

He also encouraged the different local chief executives to find ways to increase the booster uptake.

“I would like to appeal… across the local chief executives who have been newly-elected na kung pwede gawin nila lahat para yung mga booster ng kanilang mga constituents ay tumaas (to do everything to increase the booster coverage among their constituents). They can do that,” said Duque.

Some of the policies that local chief executives can do is to make an ordinance or by giving incentives to encourage more people to get boosted, he said.

The outgoing Health chief also said that continuing the “gains of the Duterte administration in terms of pandemic response” is among the “major” challenges that the next administration will be facing.

The next challenge is the implementation of universal health care, specifically, making primary health care services more accessible to the public, he said.