The National Capital Region is set to receive about 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, the Department of Health said today, as the center of the country’s economic activities continues to grapple with the pandemic.
Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing that Metro Manila will get its allocation first, followed by the regions of Central Luzon (with 261,000 doses) and Calabarzon (254,400 doses). Metro Manila, a dense urban jungle, is dealing with a shortage of hospital beds, medicines, and manpower, as thousands of cases are recorded each day.
The country received about 2 million doses of the vaccine over the weekend, a donation from the COVAX facility. Prior to their arrival, almost 527,000 doses arrived in the country from Covax this March.
“NCR Plus has the highest allocation so that we can have herd containment in this epicenter of this disease,” Vergeire said, adding that the jabs will be deployed today.
The Philippines briefly paused the use of the vaccine after numerous reports from overseas said that it had caused blood clotting, with a few patients dying. However, such incidents were said to be very rare, and in the Philippines, no one had reported experiencing such. Shortly before the arrival of the donated vaccines, the Department of Health announced that AstraZeneca can be safely used by people from the age of 18 and above.
The Duterte government has started vaccinating health workers, the elderly, and those with comorbidities, but the pace has been slow, with only about 444,000 receiving two doses of the vaccine as of this week. The government said that it intends to vaccinate the rest of the population by August.
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