EXPLAINER: What you need to know about the PH COVID-19 vaccine drive

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippine government recently approved and ratified its official deployment and vaccination plan as part of the nationwide immunization campaign to combat the coronavirus.

Now, the country is expecting the initial doses of the vaccines to arrive as early as February. CNN Philippines breaks down all the things you should know as you prepare to get your COVID-19 shot.

Who are the priority groups?

The COVID-19 task force has approved a resolution presented by the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the DOH Technical Advisory Group on the newest priority groups which now include other sectors, other frontline personnel, and people with comorbidities. As of February 5, these priority groups for vaccination are the following:

A1: Frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc.

A2: Senior citizens aged 60 years old and above

A3: Persons with comorbidities not otherwise included in the preceding categories

A4: Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ

A5: Indigent population not otherwise included in the preceding categories

B1: Teachers, Social Workers

B2: Other Government Workers

B3: Other essential workers

B4: Socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people

B5: Overseas Filipino Workers

B6: Other Remaining Workforce

C: Rest of the Filipino population not otherwise included in the above groups

RELATED: LIST: Priority sectors, subgroups in COVID-19 vaccination program 

Under the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines, the distribution of the vaccines will be done with a “sectoral” approach, which means that health workers will have to be vaccinated first before proceeding to the next priority group.

What are the priority regions?

The government has also designated "priority regions" that will be attended to in the vaccination program.

As of January, these are the priority regions based on the burden of COVID-19 cases:



Davao Region

Cordillera Administrative Region

Eastern Visayas

Central Luzon

Cagayan Valley

Western Visayas

Northern Mindanao


Ilocos Region

Central Visayas


Zamboanga Peninsula

Bicol Region



The review of cases per region may be recalibrated every month by NITAG, along with other indicators such as the number of active cases in recent four weeks and the proportion of those who became ill after an exposure per 100,000 population in recent four weeks.

What are the available vaccines?

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. earlier said that the country is targeting to secure this year up to 148 million doses, enough to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos.

Talks are ongoing with seven pharmaceutical companies, but Galvez said that as of January, the country was already in “advanced stages of negotiations'' with American pharmaceutical companies Novavax, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson, Chinese drugmaker Sinovac, and Russian medical research institute Gamaleya. The other firms are AstraZeneca and Moderna.

RELATED: PH signs term sheets with 5 vaccine firms for up to 108 million doses — Galvez 

When will they be ready for rollout?

The initial vaccine shipment from the COVAX facility, a global platform that aims to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines led by the World Health Organization, will cover 117,000 doses from Pfizer-BioNTech. These are expected to arrive in the second or third week of February to cover around 56,000 medical frontliners and hospital staff at the Philippine General Hospital, Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium or Tala Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, and the East Avenue Medical Center.

The Philippines may also be able to access 5.5 million to up to 9.2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines made in South Korea by late February or early March — if WHO includes it in the emergency use listing, a procedure done to review its eligibility prior to its delivery.

Galvez added that other economic frontliners, such as those from the food production, farming, and transportation sector among others, may be vaccinated against the virus in the second quarter of the year. An updated list of target vaccination dates per priority group has yet to be provided. 

An expanded roll-out of the vaccines ranging from 30 million to 50 million doses will likely start by the third quarter, primarily for the inoculation of poor communities and the indigents, while the remaining population can expect to get their doses by the fourth quarter of this year.

How will the vaccines get to you?

For vaccines requiring temperatures of 2 to 8 °C, and -20°C while on storage: The vaccines will be delivered from the supplier to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Metro Manila, which will pass it on to the regional warehouses before they are delivered to local government units. LGUs will then be the ones to allocate the vaccines to COVID-19 designated hospitals, medical centers and clinics. Vaccines that fall under the 2 to 8°C requirement are those from Novavax, AstraZeneca, Gamaleya, and Sinovac while Moderna and J&J fall under the -20°C requirement.

For vaccines requiring -70 to 80°C storage: The supplier will deliver the vaccines to a private centralized vaccine hub, then through a private distributor, these will either be stored in temporary warehouses or will be immediately given to hospitals, medical centers, and clinics. Pfizer primarily falls under this requirement and may be limited to Metro Manila, Cebu City and Davao City for now.

The distribution will depend on the allocated vaccine volumes for each LGU and the storage requirements specific for each brand. For cities that procured the Pfizer vaccine like Navotas, ultra-low temperature freezers that can store up to 257,000 doses are now being prepared. Taguig, on the other hand, partnered with a cold chain facility previously used for meat and other food processing items to store vials of AstraZeneca vaccines.

RELATED: Metro Manila’s vaccine storage preps 'more than satisfactory', says Duque 

How do you enlist?

According to the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines, masterlisting is necessary to ensure a smooth vaccination process among priority groups and this will be done among localities. The LGUs will review the eligible population, their registration, and schedule their inoculation which will be mapped out by areas.

LGUs will compile and submit the digitized information primarily through the COVID-19 Electronic Immunization Registry as the official platform or

For those under priority GROUP A, submission of the masterlist started on January 31. Completion of the list of priority health workers must be done by February 15.

For the rest of those under GROUP A and those under GROUP B, the masterlist must be completed by March 31. For GROUP C, deadline for completion is on June 30.

Vaccinees must provide their name, birthday, sex, address, profession, and unique identifiers such as their QR code, their PhilHealth number or IDs.

How do you know when to go to the vaccination site?

Those who have successfully registered for the vaccination drive will be provided with their vaccination date and time schedule and an immunization card with a QR code which shall be brought to the vaccination site. One must first be notified of his successful registration before proceeding to the site. Walk-ins will not be allowed, the DOH says.

Depending on the assigned schedule, the vaccinee may either be fetched from assigned pick-up points through arranged transportation mechanisms. Barangay health workers or local officials may also mobilize them through house-to-house visits prior to the immunization.

What do you do at the vaccination site?

Health facilities will serve as the primary site for the vaccination activity. Inoculation may be done in their conference rooms, auditoriums or other temporary sites within the vicinity such as facility grounds, parking lots, or other open spaces.

Vaccinees must first proceed to the waiting area where they will wait for their turn to get the shot. A safety officer in the area will ensure that physical distancing and other health protocols are followed.

When his turn is up, the vaccinee must first undergo registration to present his documents and for the scanning of his QR code. He will then be directed to a health education area within the same site where he can consult with the vaccination team or browse through educational materials for any queries. He will also be asked to sign a consent form to express their approval to get vaccinated. The vaccinee must also undergo final screening through a brief physical examination to ensure his eligibility to get the shot. He will also be advised when to come back for his second dose if it is his first time.

At the vaccination area, the vaccine will be injected, most likely in the upper arm area. Other vaccination details will also be recorded in his immunization card.

After the inoculation, the recipient must head to the post-vaccination monitoring area where he will be observed for 30 minutes up to an hour for any adverse reactions. Once cleared, he will be provided with instructions when reporting any adverse effects and the location of health facilities where he can proceed.

How will your condition be further monitored post-vaccination?

The World Health Organization defines Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) as any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization, and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine. This may be as minor as tenderness and swelling in the vaccinated area, headache and nausea. For serious AEFIs such as facial paralysis and fever, these are the ones that may lead to hospitalization, disability, or death in worst case scenarios.

A designated surveillance officer, nurse, or pharmacist will follow up with the vaccinee every two weeks for the first two months, then monthly for one year to examine whether he or she is well, with minor AEFI, or with serious AEFI. This will be done through phone calls, facility announcements, notes upon receipt of documents.

The vaccinee may also report symptoms by calling the vaccination operation call center, filing a report to the Food and Drug Administration, or reporting online through a system that will be set up by the government.