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MANILA, Mar 11 (Mabuhay) — The government aims to start the vaccination of the general public as soon as the inoculation program for healthcare workers and senior citizens will be finished by the middle of this year, a National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) official said.

During the Laging Handa briefing Wednesday, NTF deputy chief implementer Vivencio Dizon said the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) immunization program for the general public will be done in time for the arrival of more vaccines that the government ordered from various vaccine makers.

“Our objective is by mid-year we’re done inoculating our health care workers and senior citizens. That’s in time with the arrival of Moderna and other vaccines, then we can start the vaccination for the general public,” Dizon said in Filipino.

He added that next to healthcare workers and senior citizens, the priority sectors for the Covid-19 vaccines are those with comorbidities, non-medical front-liners like police, economic front-liners including public transportation drivers and wet market vendors, and indigent population.

To date, the Philippines received a total of 1,125,600 doses of Covid-19 vaccines — 600,000 Sinovac’s CoronaVac were donated by the Chinese government and 525,600 AstraZeneca vaccines were from the COVAX Facility that arrived in two batches.

“Of the 1.1 million doses that arrived, more than half or around 60 percent were distributed and deployed,” Dizon said adding the remaining vials are continuously being given to healthcare workers across the country.

Dizon said they are hopeful to receive more than 2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines this month.

Of the expected 2 million doses that will arrive this month, 1.4 million vials are from Sinovac — 400,000 are the additional donation from China and 1 million doses are ordered by the Philippine government.

“The World Health Organization committed that the next tranches of AstraZeneca from COVAX Facility are going to arrive. So we hope to receive more than the 1.4 million Sinovac this March. Hopefully, we will reach more than 2 million this March,” Dizon said in Filipino.

Moreover, Dizon said the NTF will look into doing two to three shifts a day for vaccine administrators once the inoculation program for the general public will start to fast-track the rollout of Covid-19 immunization program.

He added the government will be able to reach its target of inoculating 50 million Filipinos by the end of 2021 as long as the significant amount of vaccine supply will arrive within the year. (MNS)

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