50% booster target ‘impossible’ – DoH
BY RED MENDOZA
The Manila Times
THE Department of Health (DoH) said that it has revised its vaccination targets for the first booster dose, as it will not be able to reach its ORIGINAL TARGET BY THE END OF THE fiRST 100 days of the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. The DoH’s PinasLakas campaign targeted around 50 percent of the 40 million eligible for booster shots, or around 23 million individuals, by October 8. But Health Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire admitted that the goal will be “impossible,” owing to the low booster vaccine take-up across the country. Vergeire said that from July 26, they only boosted 2.7 million, or 11.3 percent, of the target, with 20 million yet to receive their shots. “There is a slow uptake in our first booster shots, but we will do the targeting in phases,” Vergeire said during a briefing on Tuesday. For the first phase, Vergeire said that they will aim to reach 30 percent by October 8, or 6 percent more than the current 24 percent across the country, through the one-week “PinasLakas Special Vaccinaton Week” from September 26 to 30. She said that the Special Vaccination Week will “intensify” the DoH’s vaccination effort through partnerships with medical societies, other government agencies, local government and the private sectors. “Hopefully, in this special vaccination week, all of the doctors who helped us reach the high vaccination rates last year, we hope will pour in efforts to reach the 30 percent of first booster shots by October 8,” Vergeire said. If the target is not reached by that date, Vergeire believes that more people will get severe or critical infections, which could possibly strain the hospital utilization rate. She said that the government will continue to pursue the booster vaccination even if the first target is not met. “If we cannot reach our target by October 8, we will continue this until the end of the year so we can see how many Filipinos will be vaccinated and protected against Covid-19,” Vergeire said. Meanwhile, Vergeire said that the Janssen vaccine from Johnson and Johnson remains as the only manufacturer that has applied for a certificate of product registration with the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has already issued a standing order that would encourage vaccine manufacturers to apply for a Certificate of Product Registration in preparation for the country’s eventual lifting of the State of Public Health Emergency. She also said that they are still studying the administration of vaccines on children below five years old, noting that there are only a few countries that have begun the administration of Covid-19 vaccines to the age group.