President Rodrigo Duterte (MNS photo)

MANILA, Oct 12 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is confident that major cities throughout the country will have vaccinated half of their target population before 2021 is over.

During the president’s weekly public talk streamed before midnight Tuesday, Duterte said 23 million Filipinos have already completed doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is 30 percent of the government target of 77 million people (or 70% of Filipinos) by the end of 2021.

Nearly 50 million doses have been administered nationwide as of October 10, Sunday.

“The challenge is now to further speed up our vaccination rollout especially in the provinces, in the key cities and municipalities to achieve our target of at least 50% of the country’s target population by the end of the year,” Duterte said reading from a prepared statement.

“We are confident that most, if not all major cities in the country will be able to hit and even surpass this target before Christmas. Sana (Hopefully).”

Duterte, who touted the vaccine rollout for the decrease in active cases in October, did not explain what qualifies as a major city.

“Kaunti na ang hawaan kasi kaunti na lang ang tao na hindi nabakunahan (Infections are fewer now because only a few people have not bee immunized,” he said.

Health Sec. Francisco Duque III agreed, saying that government has started to see COVID-19 cases in the regions dropping and healthcare utilization rates improving.

“Bumababa ang hawaan, kontaminasyon. Bumababa sa awa ng Diyos (Infections and contamination have gone down),” Duterte said.

“Magandang balita ito (This is good news). If we continue to ramp up the vaccination of our people along with our consistent practice of mask-hugas-at iwas, and with the gradual resumption of economic activities, then we can hope for a better and truly merry Christmas.”

The government is set to increase its target of vaccination coverage to 90% of the country’s 110 million population, which it hopes to reach by 2022.

Over 924,000 more doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrive in PH

The rate and speed of vaccination will depend on the supply of vaccines in the country.

FDA sees no waning effect of vaccines, no need for booster shots yet

As of October 11, more than 87 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines — most of them procured — have arrived, according to the ABS-CBN News’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker.

Interior Sec. Eduardo Año also reminded local governments to ensure vaccines are administered within 15 to 30 days of delivery for provinces and within 3 days for cities and municipalities.

Duterte named 8 hospitals in Metro Manila where pilot testing of vaccinations for children ages 12 to 17 will begin on Thursday, which includes:

Fe Del Mundo Medical Center

Makati Medical Center

National Children’s Hospital

Pasig City Children’s hospital

Philippine Children’s Medical Center

Philippine General Hospital

Philippine Heart Center

St. Luke’s Medical Center

The Department of Health earlier said children with underlying medical conditions will be prioritized for the pilot test, which will be done in 2 phases involving ages 15 to 17 and ages 12 to 14.

The country has already begun vaccinating the general population 7 months since jabs were put out for priority groups in March.  (MNS)

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