The Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) today assured the public that the current pace of the COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers is expected to rise exponentially once bulk of the government-procured doses, as well as those from the COVAX Facility arrive by mid-second quarter of this year.
The DOH and NTF further clarified that the current pace of COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers (HCWs) will not be the pace the vaccination will go once full-scale implementation of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program has been initiated. “It is not logical to compute performance evaluation from the start of the mini roll out. We will be able to get our benchmark vaccination rate when we start our massive community roll out by May and June,” NTF Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez said.
According to Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, it is expected that the vaccination of HCWs will be steadily paced in order to ensure that hospitals are fully operational and their hospital staff sufficient at any given time, considering that the same healthcare workers being vaccinated are the ones maintaining the integrity of the health system. “In anticipation of local and systemic reactions that can occur as a result of vaccination and may render some vaccinees unable to report to work, hospitals needed to spread out the vaccination of their staff. Hindi pwedeng lahat sabay-sabay because we need to ensure na meron tayong sapat na bilang ng medical frontliners para magpatakbo ng ospital,” Sec. Duque said.
Further, both Sec. Duque and Sec. Galvez highlighted that the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to HCWs is but the preparatory phase of the full-scale vaccination program, and noted that lessons learned from this phase will be beneficial once vaccination has been ramped up to cover the rest of the priority populations.
“We are only in the second week of our roll out, but the experience we are gaining from this phase will help us once supply of vaccines becomes steady. As of latest count, we have already deployed almost 90% of our available doses. These vaccines have reached Batanes to Tawi-tawi, from the northernmost to the southernmost island provinces–a testament that our distribution channels are ready should the vaccines arrive,” Sec. Galvez said.
“While herd immunity is the goal of every country including ours, our short term goal with the limited vaccine supply is to reduce mortality and protect those who are at most risk.” Sec. Duque said. “We are confident that we will be vaccinating much more once our vaccines arrive, but while we wait for our turn to get vaccinated, I want to emphasize that we cannot let our guards down. Vaccination is only one of our strategies to beat this virus, but our adherence to MPHS is still the best” he added.