Metro Manila, which has vaccinated 45 percent of its target population, is considering accommodating non-residents for COVID-19 vaccination, Metro Manila Council head Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez said Monday.
He told ABS-CBN’S TeleRadyo 80 percent of the target population – 58 million in Metro Manila and nearby provinces – had received their first dose, adding the authorities were studying if the vaccine could be shared with nearby provinces.
Those who live outside Metro Manila must register online and coordinate with the host local government, he added.
“We’re just organizing the online registration because we don’t accept walk-ins, it will lead to chaos, especially if we accept from nearby provinces,’’ he said.
Parañaque has administered the first dose to 100 percent of its 446,000 target population, according to the mayor. Some 245,000 have yet to receive their second dose, he added.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, said nations must vaccinate at least 85 percent of their population due to the presence of more transmissible variants.
Dr. Rontgene Solante, an infectious disease expert and member of the Vaccine Expert Panel, urged a reassessment of giving COVID-19 booster doses to health workers, stressing that they were at higher risk of infection.
Solante said data “consistently” show that “there is really waning immunity after six months” with the Sinovac vaccine, the brand that most health workers received.
“With two or three hospitals I’m in, there is really a not so high but moderate numbers of healthcare workers who are already getting sick because of this [COVID-19] infection,” Solante told ANC in an interview.
Solante said that most fully vaccinated health workers who contract COVID-19 only have mild symptoms.
“But if you are a healthcare worker and you have mild symptoms, you will undergo 14-day isolation and that in itself can really affect the performance and the way we deliver healthcare in our hospitals,” he said.
Last week, the Department of Health said it still did not recommend COVID-19 booster doses as evidence remained “minimal” and incomplete.
Despite this, the agency acknowledged that the country would eventually need to roll out booster doses, which is why the government has set a P45-billion unprogrammed budget for the shots pending a solid recommendation from experts.
The United States earlier approved the use of booster shots for Americans eight months after getting fully vaccinated. The World Health Organization, on the other hand, said evidence still does not support the use of booster doses.
A congressional leader stressed that achieving the daily vaccination target should remain the foremost objective in the country’s pandemic response.
Rep. Fidel Nograles made the statement amid reports that Metro Manila was still falling short of the 250,000 doses daily vaccination target.
“The low vaccination rate in Metro Manila is understandable given the recent imposition of stricter quarantine rules and the infection of a number of our healthcare workers due to the Delta variant. The reasons for failing to reach the mark still persist as of the moment and one of the ways to vaccinate more people is to widen the coverage and include municipalities around NCR,” the Rizal lawmaker said.
Nograles said allocating more vaccines to commuter towns around the Metro makes more sense with the ‘bakuna bubble’ proposal of Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.
Ninety-five percent of Cebu Pacific Air’s (CEB) pilots and cabin crew were already vaccinated against coronavirus disease and is on track to completing its employee inoculation by October this year.
On Aug. 26, CEB administered the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines for some employees through its own vaccination program dubbed “COVID Protect”.
The airline is targeting administering the second dose for the remaining employees in September.
To date, 93 percent of CEB’s total workforce have been inoculated.
The COVID Protect program is part of the Gokongwei Group’s initiative for all its business units. Through this, CEB workers receive free inoculation for themselves and their dependents, as well as its third-party workers.