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Vaccine challenges

Data provided by international think tank Our World in Data showed the Philippines has vaccinated only about 4.23 percent of its total population as of June 8, with 6.31 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine administered so far. This ranks our country eighth out of 10 Southeast Asian nations in terms of vaccinating its whole population.

Singapore, the second least populated nation in the region, leads the pack with 42.8 percent vaccinated, followed by Cambodia with 16.72 percent. Brunei, which has the smallest population, has vaccinated 11.37 percent. Laos is at 9.74 percent while Malaysia’s 8.76 percent overtakes Indonesia which is at 7.19 percent. Thailand recorded 5.94 percent, followed by the Philippines.

In terms of doses administered, the Philippines is second to Indonesia, the most populous nation in the region that has so far deployed 31.2 million doses.

The Philippines is currently racing to attain its target of inoculating 70 million Filipinos by December to achieve herd immunity while struggling with supply constraints as well as vaccine bias and hesitancy.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. expects the country to ramp up its daily vaccination rate, when supply normalizes following the arrival of 2.2 million Pfizer, 1 million Sinovac and 100,000 Sputnik V vaccines last week. The country is also expecting 12 million doses to arrive next month and 17 million in August. Galvez adds that the country was still working on closing supply agreements with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson which are expected to yield 45 million doses.

A country as populous and hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic as the Philippines will need to vaccinate so much more people than its neighbors in order to achieve the herd immunity which is our only hope at any return to normalcy.

With problems in procurement and logistics still hounding the vaccination program that officially started in March, as well as serious issues with vaccine bias and hesitancy among its people, our government officials have their work cut out for them as all these challenges will need to be addressed as soon as possible for the vaccination program to be successful, herd immunity achieved, the country finally opened up again, and economic recovery possible.*

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