The government will carry out a mobile, barangay-to-barangay vaccination drive next year to immunize the 90 million Filipino people, including school-aged children.
“The 2022 vaccination strategy will mainly focus on immunizing the unvaccinated population including school-aged children and providing booster shots to medical and economic frontliners,” vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said
He said the government would target inoculating those who had not received COVID-19 jab, provide booster doses, and protect children in preparation for in-person classes.
Another goal of the government vaccination campaign is to ensure the safety of both the medical and economic frontliners, said Galvez, who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
To achieve these, the government will carry out mobile, barangay-to-barangay vaccinations, which Galvez said were proven very effective.
To further protect vaccinated individuals, booster shots will be administered three months after the second dose. The three-month spacing has been approved by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration and will be executed soon, according to Galvez.
In preparation for face-to-face classes, the government will also vaccinate children aged five to 11 years, he said, adding Pfizer Inc. has already applied for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for this age group.
Government departments have also agreed that 15 million of the 20 million doses being procured from Pfizer will be allotted for children five to 11 years old.
Under the current state of vaccination, the country still has enough supply for the 54-million target this year that includes allocation for minors and for booster doses.
In related developments, the World Bank approved on Dec. 21 a $300-million (approximately P15 billion) additional financing for the Philippines to help scale up its national vaccination program, strengthen the health systems, and overcome the impact of the pandemic especially on the poor and the most vulnerable.
The Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project—Additional Financing 2 (PCERP-AF2) will cover procurement and delivery of doses to individuals aged 12-17; additional doses, as part of primary vaccination series, for at-risk population sub-groups, including immunocompromised individuals and senior citizens, who were not fully protected with the initial two dose or single dose regimens; and booster doses for health workers and the wider population.
Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, said fair, broad, and fast access to effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines is vital to save lives and strengthen the Philippines’ economic recovery.
“This funding operation is critical for the country to safely reopen the economy and resume economic and social development activities, including face-to-face learning, that were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Diop said.
Expected to provide approximately 27 million vaccine doses, subject to regulatory approvals and data on safety, this new loan will also finance primary doses for children under 12 in support of the country’s efforts to safely reopen schools.
Diop added that this new lending operation will also help the country’s efforts to address emerging variants like Omicron.
Diop said the global vaccine supply market remained supplier-driven with many uncertainties for low- and middle-income countries.
Hence, negotiating supply agreements with suppliers ahead of the country’s planned vaccination scale up in 2022 is a step in the right direction.
The funding builds on the World Bank’s earlier funding $100 million approved in April 2020 to help the country meet urgent healthcare needs to address the pandemic and bolster the country’s public health preparedness, and $500 million approved in March 2021 to finance the initial roll-out of the vaccination program.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has deployed over $157 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history.
The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery.
The bank is also supporting over 50 low- and middle-income countries, more than half of which are in Africa, with the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and is making available $20 billion in financing for this purpose until the end of 2022.
At the same time, WHO issued an emergency use listing (EUL) for Nuvaxovid.
This brings the total number of COVID-19 vaccines with EUL issued to 10.
Nuvaxovid was developed by Novavax and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It is the originator of products for the Covovax vaccine, which received its EUL on December 17.
WHO said both Nuvaxovid and Covovax were made using the same technologies. Both require two doses and are stable at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius refrigerated temperatures.
Meanwhile, the Philippines received 3.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from France and the U.S government.
The latest shipment consists of 1,697,000 doses of AstraZeneca donated by the French government and 1,623,960 doses of Pfizer given by the U.S government.
“We’re very supportive of the [Philippine] government’s effort in deploying the vaccination campaign. This is a huge endeavor and every vaccine saves lives so we’re really happy to support the Filipino government’s effort in deploying this important campaign of saving lives,” said French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz following the shipment’s arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Tuesday.
Another six million doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by France are expected to arrive in the country.
“This shipment today, coupled with the one that arrived last night, brings to 3.4 million doses [that have arrived] in the past 24 hours. So we’re very happy that the Philippines continues to benefit from COVAX deliveries,” Allyson Gardner, first secretary of the US Embassy, said.
As the largest donor country of the COVAX facility, Gardner said the US has directly donated 22 million COVID-19 doses to the Philippines.