An estimated 22 million Filipinos will be vaccinated against COVID-19 under the country’s agreement on the COVAX facility, according to an official of the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO is among the founders of the COVAX facility along with other groups for their equal distribution of the vaccine worldwide.
According to WHO Philippine representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, it was confirmed that 117,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be available in the country in the second or third week of February, and 5.5 million to 9.2 million vaccines by AstraZeneca before the end of the first 3 months of the year.
“The COVAX facility has an agreement with Philippines. We will provide vaccines to 20 percent of the population or 22 million people… [or] up to 44 million doses,” said Abeyasinghe.
But according to the WHO, vaccines from COVAX are no longer free, although they say they will be paid little. They call it co-financing.
“Initially the plan was to make this free but latest communication apparently looking for some costs… Lowest possible costs because of the scale of purchase… It’s minimal,” said Abeyasinghe.
In the list of COVAX facilities, medical frontliners and the elderly will be vaccinated first.
“We have a say on who to vaccinate first,” said Abeyasinghe.
He said the government’s vaccination rollout plan is also good.
Vaccines from COVAX facility no longer free
But he insisted that not because there is already a vaccine, everything would go back to normal. WHO estimates that it will be another 2 years before the world finally opens.
“Vaccines will not reopen the world right now. Transmission will continue, we won’t be able to vaccinate everyone until 2 years from now. No one is safe until everyone is safe,” the WHO official said.
To guide LGUs in the preparation and implementation of COVID-19 vaccination, the government has approved and ratified the Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines.
The plan has 7 phases: selection, access, funding, storage, and distribution of vaccines as well as actual vaccination, assessment, and monitoring.
The immediate construction of the vaccination operation center of the LGUs is being mandated.