The government will shift its inoculation strategy to target smaller local government units in a bid to identify people who have yet to receive their COVID-19 jabs, an official of the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) said Saturday.
As of March 15, nearly 65 million people are fully immunized against COVID-19, some 5 million short of the target 70 million for the month, data showed.
“We’re in the last mile of vaccination,” said NVOC co-lead Dr. Kezia Rosario, noting it would be more difficult to convince vaccine-hesitant groups.
“We are moving [in a] more granular [manner] to each government unit… Now let’s focus on the areas that are still unvaccinated and we will study how we can provide services in these areas,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
She said special vaccination days could be possible in areas that have slow vaccination rates, such as Cebu, Lanao Del Sur, Bangsamoro region, Central Visayas, Mimaropa, Bicol region, and some areas in Soccsksargen.
The government reached its target of 1.8 million persons inoculated in the fourth phase of its Bayanihan, Bakunahan drive that started March 10, Rosario said, noting that senior citizen vaccinations were extended to Friday.
Rosario said vaccination for 12- to 17-year-olds had a good turnout with about 255,000 children of the age group showing up at vaccination sites to get either their first or second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Vaccinations for senior citizens, however, had a lower turnout with almost 100,000 individuals taking their COVID-19 jabs.
“What we need to do with our senior citizens is to approach them, and to have more conversations and social preparations for them,” she said.
The Philippines reported 525 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, increasing the nationwide tally to 3,673,717.
Based on the Department of Health (DOH)’s data posted on its website, active infections stood at 45,339.
The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks were the National Capital Region (NCR) with 2,155, followed by Region 4-A with 1,020 and Region 6 with 743.
Recoveries increased to 3,570,355 while new fatalities pushed the death toll to 58,023.
The latest data of the DOH showed that 24.64 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds for COVID-19 patients nationwide were in use.
At least 22.04 percent of isolation beds in the country were utilized, while 13.66 percent of ward beds nationwide were in use.
The independent OCTA Research Group said the Philippines was rated “very low risk” for COVID-19 even as its neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei experienced a surge in infections.
OCTA fellow Guido David, in a tweet, said the Philippines recorded an average daily attack rate (ADAR) of 0.47 on March 18, with a seven-day average of 527 cases.
ADAR pertains to the average number of new cases in a period per 100,000 people.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ growth rate in new cases from the previous week as compared to the current week was at negative 22 percent.
The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Tuesday that all areas in the Philippines were now considered to be at low risk for COVID-19.
OCTA also reported that Timor Leste, Taiwan, Cambodia, and China were also at “very low risk” for the viral disease with an ADAR ranging from 0.13 to 0.86.
However, South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei are all under the “severe” category, with South Korea recording the highest ADAR in East Asia countries at 788.15.
Japan and Thailand, meanwhile, were under the “very high” category with an ADAR of 39.68 and 34.18, respectively.
Indonesia and Laos were both under “moderate” risk for COVID-19, while Myanmar was under “low” risk with 1.08 ADAR.
OCTA said the Philippines could go below 500 cases daily by April.