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Roll out!

Now that the much-needed Covid-19 vaccines are finally starting to trickle into the country, the Department of Health has to ensure that it has made the necessary preparations so we don’t allow any of those vaccines to go to waste.

The DOH has expressed confidence that it can use the up to two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines before it expires within two months. Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje on Wednesday said using up to 1.5 million shots for first dose and the remaining 530,400 for second dose is achievable if the 1,047 vaccination sites in the country inoculate a minimum of 100 people daily with the recently delivered AstraZeneca vaccines.

The health official said they have reached out to DOH regional offices to speed up the vaccination.

COVAX delivered a total of 2,030,400 AstraZeneca doses to the Philippines on May 8. Of this number, 1.5 million doses are expiring on June 30 while the rest will expire in July.

As much as we would like to believe that the government is prepared to roll out its nationwide mass vaccination program, it is difficult to discount the criticism that at the current rate of vaccination which has been pegged at a measly 40,000 to 60,000 jabs per day, government may not be able to deploy the 2 million doses before the vaccine expires.

Dr. Tony Leachon, a health reform advocate and former adviser to the pandemic task force, said government should ask the help of the private sector to speed up the rollout to prevent wastage that would be a disaster while global supply remains a problem.

According to the latest government data taken on May 4, the seven day average of people getting vaccination nationwide is only at 36,491.

Are the country’s vaccination centers and personnel ready to absorb and immediately utilize the vaccines when the much-awaited supplies do arrive in the country? Has the DOH and our government already prepared the population through a massive information campaign to fight the vaccine hesitancy that, as the experience of the USA has demonstrated, resulted in the significant slowdown in its vaccination efforts after its superbly impressive start?

Now that the vaccines are starting to trickle in, the DOH and its vaccination centers have to step up.*

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