PH taps drugstores, clinics to expand booster program

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18) — The government is utilizing big pharmacies and private clinics to be able to administer more COVID-19 booster doses.

The pilot run will begin on Thursday in seven locations across Metro Manila.

The Department of Health said booster shots will be available in the following pilot locations:

1. Mercury Drug in Quirino Avenue, Manila City

2. Southstar Drug in SSD, Marikina City

3. Watsons in SM Supercenter Pasig

4. Generika Drugstore Signal 1 in Taguig City

5. The Generics Pharmacy in Sun Valley, Parañaque City

6. Qualimed Clinic in McKinley Road, Makati City

7. Healthway in Manila City

Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the booster shots will be free of charge since they are still part of the government's COVID-19 inoculation drive.

He said the private facilities will be given 500 vaccine doses per week. He added local government units will oversee the registration and documentation process.

After the week-long pilot run of the "Resbakuna sa mga Botika" program in Metro Manila, it is set to be rolled out in other parts of the country.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr said the efforts to tap pharmacies will be focused in Metro Manila, 10 other key cities, and other areas with more than 70% vaccination coverage to keep a high and continued level of protection.

He added that mega vaccination sites — like the one in Nayong Pilipino — and shopping malls should be dedicated for the government’s booster program, and authorities should also visit barangays and go home-to-home to administer the primary doses.

At least half a million doses need to be administered daily in the country to achieve the target of giving boosters to 72 million Filipinos in 2022. Currently, only an average of 267,900 booster shots are administered in the country per day.

To date, Galvez said 4,765,771 Filipinos have gotten their booster shots.

"Ito po...ay mababa dahil halos sabay natin inilunsad ang pagbabakuna ng mga bata," he said. "Ang mga bata po (na nabakunahan) ngayon ay mahigit na 8 million."

[Translation: This number is low because vaccinations for children were launched almost at the same time. There are now over 8 million vaccinated children.]

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