Galvez: Vaccination for general public could begin in May

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 1) — Regular individuals may begin rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccine shots as early as May, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday.

Nakikita natin sa 2nd quarter po natin makukuha yun once na dumating na po yung ibang ano po ng COVAX (facility),” responded the official once asked when inoculations for the general public will begin, confirming that May is the very target for these vaccination efforts.

[Translation: We are looking at 2nd quarter once (vaccine doses) from the COVAX facility arrive.]

Galvez noted that the Philippines expects to receive around 5.2 million to 9.5 million doses of Pfizer’s and AstraZeneca’s vaccines from the facility during that period. Initial vaccine procurements from manufacturers Sinovac and Novavax, along with the private sector’s purchase of 2.6 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses, are also expected to arrive then. 

The Philippines formally commenced its vaccine rollout today, with health workers and select government officials getting the first legal shots in the country across six state hospitals in Metro Manila. 

The vaccine czar said the first three months of 2021 will solely be dedicated to inoculating medical frontliners against the contagious disease.

Galvez likewise emphasized the “acute” shortage in the global vaccine supply, adding officials have been trying to haggle on earlier deliveries. He also cited government’s efforts to negotiate by paying more to speed up the arrival of procured doses. 

The government hopes to inoculate 50 to 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19 by year-end.