The national government’s vaccination program against COVID-19 will be further expanded to outside the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus areas, and other areas with the greatest number of COVID-19 cases, as soon as vaccine supply becomes available, according to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr.
“Kapag naririyan na ang mga bakuna, mga 42 percent po ang ire-reserve natin sa NCR plus six (Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal), including Metro Cebu and Metro Davao. At yung balanse naman po na [halos] 60 percent, pupunta pa rin sa buong Pilipinas,” said Secretary Roque in a press briefing on May 17, 2021.
The Palace official disclosed that as part of the national government’s strategy on vaccination, the rollout of the national vaccination program will be expanded beyond the focus areas, starting with Region 3, Region 4, Cagayan de Oro, Baguio City, and Zamboanga City. This will be followed by Bacolod, Iloilo. General Santos City, Iligan, Region 7, and Region 11.
Region 10, Region 6, Region 8, Region 9, Region 2, and the Cordillera Administrative Region will come after, followed by Region 5, Region 1, Region 12, and Region 13 (CARAGA), according to the Palace spokesperson.
“Hindi naman po natin sinasabi na palibhasa nagkakaroon tayo ng focus areas na NCR plus six, Metro Cebu at Metro Davao, hindi na makakakuha yung rest of the country … we are not safe unless all of us are safe, kaya lang po yung prayoridad is because alam naman po natin na ito yung hotspots of COVID-19,” Sec. Roque said.
Roque, who also sits as spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said that with the target areas for expansion, some 83,829,719 will be vaccinated, of which 58,680,803 accounts for 70 percent, which is the country’s target to achieve herd immunity.
“Scientists have said that the vaccination drive will have an impact kapag nabakunahan na natin around 35 percent of the population at wala pa po tayo doon. Pero mabuting balita po ngayon eh mayroon na tayong apat na milyon na available vaccine within the month of May na ibibigay at magiging sapat na po ang ating supply at least to provide about 3.5 million vaccines regularly to Metro Manila and the plus six areas,” said Roque.
As of May 15, 2021 data from the National Task Force, a total of 2,959,829 COVID vaccine doses have already been administered. Of this number, 1,215,974 workers in the frontline health services or those in the Priority Group A1 have been vaccinated with their first dose, while 414,467 have completed two doses.
Meanwhile, 589,943 senior citizens or those in the Priority Group A2 had their first dose, while 82,999 have completed their two doses. For Priority Group A3, 430, 525 individuals with comorbidity had their first dose, and 216, 774 are now done with their second dose. And for Priority Group A4, 8,955 individuals already had their first dose, while 192 have completed their second dose.
The vaccination of Priority Group A4 or the economic frontliners have already started in some LGUs as part of the strategy of simultaneous vaccinations. “Ang plano po natin hanggang katapusan ng Mayo ay A1, A2, A3. Pero pagdating po ng third quarter, beginning June or possibly a bit earlier po, eh hanggang A4 at A5 ay mababakunahan na rin natin,” said Secretary Roque.
The concurrent IATF spokesperson also disclosed that the IATF has approved the inclusion of local chief executives, the Mayors and Governors, in Priority Group A1.5 as contained in IATF Resolution 115-B.
“Sila po ang nagpapatupad ng localized lockdown. Sila po ang nagpapatupad ng vaccination. Sila po talaga ang ating instrumento dito sa paglaban natin sa COVID-19. They may not be doctors but they are equally frontliners dahil lahat po ng stratehiya natin ang humaharap po ang mga lokal na opisyales, si Mayor at si Governor,” Roque remarked.
Meanwhile, in the same press briefing, Dr. Gerardo “Gap” Legaspi, medical director of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) disclosed that the fire that broke out in the PGH affected the hospital’s operating room, supply, and autoclave room, but mostly, the thick smoke from the fire was the reason why they had to relocate some of the patients, including newborns and some COVID-19 patients. The PGH director however assured that the incident has not heavily impacted their operation as a COVID referral hospital and said that the PGH asked for only a day to temporarily not accept patients while the hospital is still preparing some of the affected areas before they accept more patients. ### OPS-PCOO