Manila, 10 June 2021 — The Philippines on Thursday received an additional 2.28 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from the COVAX Facility, the global collaboration which ensures equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world. The vaccines will be administered to those who are not fully vaccinated and those belonging to priority groups A1 to A3 — healthcare workers, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions.
The arrival of the vaccines is critical at this stage of the pandemic. Prioritizing those most exposed and at risk of severe disease will ensure the prevention of overwhelming healthcare facilities and reduce the need for implementing more stringent quarantine measures while guaranteeing smoother economic revival.
“We will use these vaccines among our A1 to A3 priority groups. If we don’t vaccinate them we will encounter the same packed emergency rooms, unavailable intensive care units, and even hospital beds during the next surge. If you are already in the priority group but have not yet registered with your local government unit (LGU), please contact your LGU to get vaccinated. I urge everyone to choose to be vaccinated when it’s their turn to protect themselves and their loved ones,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.
“While the DOH and the local government units have been making significant progress in vaccinating our healthcare workers, prioritizing the elderly and those with underlying health conditions is essential and needs to be accelerated, ” said Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines. “Given the surge in cases in some regions, it is urgent to achieve high vaccination coverage in these A1 to A3 groups to protect those at risk of severe disease and death. WHO urges the National Task Force and the local government units to establish mechanisms to increase accessibility to vaccination of the healthcare workers and elderly across the country,” added Dr Abeyasinghe.
Although global vaccine demand vastly exceeds supply, the COVAX Facility continues to facilitate the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the country. The Philippines has previously received 193,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the COVAX Facility on 10 May 2021.
“The additional 2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are definitely a huge step that would contribute to our joint effort to overcome COVID-19,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Representative. “The sooner we address the pandemic’s severe and widespread impact on public health and well-being, the sooner we are able to strengthen primary health care services for all, especially children. We continue to advocate for equitable vaccine access to reach more of the vulnerable populations. We at UNICEF remain committed to do our part to ensure a healthier, safer, and more conducive environment for children and their families,” she added.
In addition to the ongoing vaccination of the A1 to A3 priority groups, the Philippines has recently started vaccinating the A4 priority group — the frontline essential workers.
The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines is an important moment - though it will not be a quick fix and it will take some time before enough people are vaccinated to have an impact on the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the public, vaccinated or not, should not let their guard down and is reminded to adhere to minimum public health standards and other safety protocols such as physical distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing, and avoiding crowds, close-contact settings, and confined spaces.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, as well as civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others.
Notes to Editors
Full COVAX News Note to Editors:
List of donor pledges to the Gavi COVAX AMC:
UNICEF COVAX page:
Lindsay Orsolino, Media Relations Section, Communications Management Unit - Department of Health, firstname.lastname@example.org, +639063812403
Jun Ryan Orbina, Communication Officer for Immunization, WHO Philippines, email@example.com, +63906 438 6312
Rocel Ann Junio, Communication Officer, WHO Philippines, j firstname.lastname@example.org, +63928 501 2064
Niko Wieland, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Philippines, email@example.com, +63 917 867 8366
Marge Francia, Communication Officer, UNICEF Philippines, firstname.lastname@example.org, +63917 858 9447