MANILA — Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin M. Andanar urged the Filipino people to continue supporting the national government’s vaccination program and, in the process, help the country achieve herd immunity before the end of the year, which serves as the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, which signalled the rollout of the national vaccination program nationwide, we can now see the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sec. Andanar during the “Cabinet Report sa Teleradyo” on Friday, March 13, 2021.
“The vaccines are now being delivered to our frontliners nationwide. We need to support the government to convince the Filipino people to lessen the doubts about receiving COVID-19 jabs, as it provides benefits against the virus,” Sec. Andanar added.
On February 28, 2021, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the arrival ceremony of the first COVID-19 vaccine in the country, around 600,000 doses of CoronaVac, manufactured by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. This kickstarted the official roll out of the nationwide inoculation program, and the first beneficiaries were mainly the healthcare workers and frontliners.
Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia H.E. Lee Hiong Tan Wee emphasized that the Indonesian government also experienced the public doubts during its initial rollout in January 2021. As of now, they hold 28 million doses of CoronaVac on stock, which is used for their own vaccination program.
“In Indonesia too, there were a lot of initial rollout mistrust. In the past year, I remember that the Sinovac was having [clinical] testing throughout Indonesia. And the Indonesian government was very cooperative to test probably millions of millions of ano [individuals], and finally okay pala ‘yan sa tao [and finally it okay to be used for humans],” said Ambassador Wee.
Epidemiologist Dr. John Wong, Founder and Senior Technical Adviser – Epimetrics, explained that any COVID-19 vaccine that is proven to be effective and have been granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the government, will surely help the country to achieve ‘herd immunity’ against the COVID-19 virus.
“Ideally you want to vaccinate the 100%, but even if you vaccinate 60% or 70%, you are able to protect the whole population… In the case of shortage, like we have in the Philippines, we should get any vaccine that is effective. Any vaccine that is effective is a good vaccine for us,” said Dr. Wong, also a member of Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) – Technical Working Group (TWG) on Covid-19 Variants.
Furthermore, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, also the Chair of the National Vaccination Operation Center, assured that the the Filipino public in far-flung areas will also receive their COVID-19 doses through the DOH Regional Offices, which eventually the local government units will be responsible for the vaccination rollout in their jurisdiction.
“Pag-deliver po natin niyan (COVID-19 vaccines) ay sa pamamagitan ng ating mga Regional Offices ‘yung tinatawag nating Center for Health Development. ‘Yan po ay ide-deliver nila sa mga probinsya, sa mga local government units [The delivery of it (COVID-19 vaccines) it through our Regional Offices, what we call Center for Health Development. That is how we are going to deliver in it the provinces, and to their local governments],” said Usec. Cabotaje.