Vaccine czar lowers target as jab rate slows down

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — The government will be unable to vaccinate 90 million individuals before President Duterte steps down, so it is lowering this target to 77 million-80 million by the end of June, according to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the head of the national vaccination program.

Galvez said on Thursday that the country’s vaccination rate slowed down this year, dropping from 18.2 million doses administered in January, to 8.7 million in February and 6.7 million in March.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The government will be unable to vaccinate 90 million individuals before President Duterte steps down, so it is lowering this target to 77 million-80 million by the end of June, according to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the head of the national vaccination program.

Galvez said on Thursday that the country’s vaccination rate slowed down this year, dropping from 18.2 million doses administered in January, to 8.7 million in February and 6.7 million in March.ADVERTISEMENThttps://84da36c729c489ba42621ceaa0843f4f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The reported 2.5 million doses administered so far this month was the latest “drawback,” Galvez said during an online “Kapihan” forum.

“We cannot anymore accomplish … the 90 million, considering that there was a remarkable drop in [the country’s vaccine] uptake during the previous month,” said Galvez, who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

“What we are pushing … we have to push our limits and [achieve] at least 77 million or 80 million by the end of the term of the President,” Galvez added.

The President leaves Malacañang on June 30.

‘Enemy is still there’

Asked to explain the slowdown in the vaccination drive, Galvez indicated that the motivation to get vaccinated had died down due to the “perception” that the severity of COVID-19 cases had been reduced because the reported cases of critical and severe infections remained low.

“Our challenge now is to change the mindset of people that our enemy, which is COVID, is still here,” he said. “We still can’t be complacent because, as WHO (World Health Organization) said, there is still a possibility of a surge before the end of the elections.”

WHO officials have warned Filipinos of a possible surge in COVID-19 cases in the next two months due to “unsafe” gatherings and events.

Campaign rallies for the national and local elections on May 9 have drawn the biggest crowds since the pandemic struck the country in early 2020.

In January, Galvez set the target of 90 million inoculated Filipinos before Mr. Duterte leaves office. At the start of the vaccination campaign, the government aimed to jab 70 million out of the country’s 110 million population to achieve so-called herd immunity.

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