Galvez: NTF prepares to purchase Covid-19 booster shots

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MANILA – After the negotiation with four manufacturers, the National Task Force Against Covid-19 is preparing to purchase more dosages of booster shots.

NTF Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. stated that these doses would be initially distributed to the A1 priority category, which consists of medical front-liners and healthcare personnel.

“We are waiting for the recommendation and evaluation of the NITAG (National Immunization Technical Advisory Group) as well as from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the need for booster shots in the country,” he said Thursday.

Galvez stated that the WHO has yet to approve the use of booster shots, and that Philippine vaccine experts are evaluating the possibility of doing so.

“But once they give us the cue that boosters are needed, we will process and arrange the procurement,” he said. “We have started the negotiation and we will sign a non-binding term sheet soon just to lock in the supply.”

He said that the national government has allotted PHP45 billion for the purchase of booster shots.

Galvez stated that the Department of Finance had assured him that funds to purchase the vaccines will be made available once the use of booster doses is approved.

The vaccine czar stated that the NTF is striving to guarantee that the Philippines has access to booster shots, particularly since other countries have begun to use them.

Galvez noted that probable suppliers will be able to send the booster shots by the end of the fourth quarter or early in 2022.

“But for now, we will focus the inoculation program on those who haven’t received their vaccines yet,” he said.

As of Sept. 2, the Philippines had received 52,792,130 doses, including 188,370 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the COVAX Facility, which arrived Thursday night.

A total of 34,102,314 doses have been administered countrywide as of September 1, with approximately 19.9 million doses administered as the first shot.

The number of fully vaccinated individuals in the country has reached 14,105,330, accounting for 18.22 percent of the target population in the Philippines.

“Malayo pa tayo sa ating (We are still far from achieving the) target of 77 million fully vaccinated individuals. But we will try to accelerate this September and October and work on achieving 20 million fully vaccinated Filipinos by the end of the month,” Galvez said.

The NTF intends to boost the number of fully vaccinated individuals by increasing the administration of the vaccines’ second jab from five to six million doses this September.

“Apart from ensuring the stability of vaccine supply, we are also focusing on the administration of the second dose and increasing the capacities of vaccination sites. We will aspire na makuha ‘yung (to reach) 20 million by the end of the month,” Galvez said.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.