Govt eyes monthly massive vaccine drive to inoculate more elderly vs. COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 14) — The government is open to conduct its massive COVID-19 vaccination drive monthly to increase coverage in areas where the inoculation rate is low, especially among the elderly.

“Iniisip natin yung iba’t-ibang strategy, baka kahit gawin natin na buwan-buwan sa specific areas siguro o kaya specific targets. Nakikita natin medyo kailangan natin taasan pa ang ating mga senior citizens,” said Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, who also chairs the National Vaccination Operations Center, in a public briefing on Monday.

[Translation: We are thinking of different strategies, we may do it every month in specific areas or specific targets. We can see that we still need to increase the vaccination rate among senior citizens.]

The government recently kicked off the third run of its “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” nationwide vaccination drive last Feb. 10.

Cabotaje said that around 2.5 million senior citizens or those under A2 category remain unprotected against COVID-19.

Moreover, Cabotaje also said that it is still too early to downgrade Metro Manila from Alert Level 2 to the most relaxed Alert Level 1 under the five-step alert system as vaccination coverage among the elderly in the region is low.

“Maraming areas sa NCR ay medyo mababa ang coverage ng A2 o ang ating senior citizens. While 99% ang fully vaccinated, kapag tinigtan sa lahat ng priority groups, kailangan pang i-push yung A2,” she added.

[Translation: Many areas in NCR have low coverage among A2 or our senior citizens. While 99% are fully vaccinated, among the priority groups, we still need to push the A2.]

Metro Manila will remain under Alert Level 2 until Feb. 28.

Cabotaje said that more than 61.4 million Filipinos are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 9 million have already received their booster dose. The government earlier said its target is to fully vaccinate 77 million people by the first quarter of 2022 and 90 million by the end of June.