Joint Press Release | 16 July 2021
16 July 2021, Manila - the Philippines received today an initial delivery of over 1.6 million doses of Johnson & Jonhson's Janssen vaccine donated by the United States (US) Government through the COVAX Facility. A second delivery, expected to arrive on 17 July 2021, will complete the donation of around 3.2 million doses.
The deliveries are part of global vaccine-sharing strategy by the US Government, which aims to provide at least 80 million vaccine doses to countries most affected by the pandemic.
“These vaccines from the COVAX facility would be given to our senior citizens who are at risk for severe COVID-19 and deaths. These single-dose vaccines would help fully vaccinate more of our lolos and lolas and increase coverage among the A2 priority group. By fully vaccinating them, we could hopefully reduce hospitalization and decongest our hospitals. Kaya naman po inaanyayahan ko ang ating mga lolo at lola na magpabakuna na laban sa COVID-19,” said Secretary of Health Francisco T. Duque III.
As of July 14, around 10 million Filipinos have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 4 million have completed two doses. However, the vaccination coverage among the A2 priority group – the senior citizens – remains lagging at 31% coverage for the first dose.
The additional COVID-19 vaccines are expected to urgently fill in the supplies needed to vaccinate the vulnerable and at-risk populations, especially the elderly and those living in geographically-isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA). The J&J vaccines can be stored using conventional vaccine storage equipment for routine vaccines, enabling the supplies to be distributed to far-flung areas, where populations can be fully protected with a single dose.
“WHO lauds the United States Government and its people for heeding the global call for vaccine equity, and for its continuing partnership with the Philippines to save lives and end the pandemic,” said Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines. “COVID-19 vaccines are lifesaving tools, but with a limited supply, prioritizing the most vulnerable is the most optimal way to save lives. In the Philippines, we need to ramp up our efforts in vaccinating the elderly and those with underlying conditions,” added Dr Abeyasinghe.
“UNICEF welcomes this significant commitment from the United States Government. As cases rise around the world, as the virus continues to mutate, and as vaccine availability remains low, sharing immediately available excess doses is an essential stop-gap measure. For UNICEF these doses represent more than just protection—it represents hope for the many children who are still unable to go back to school, hug their friends and family, and simply be children,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Country Representative.
To date, the Philippines has received about 10 million vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility.
DOH, WHO, and UNICEF continue to urge local governments to make the best use of available vaccines, while continuing with other preventive measures – wearing of masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing.