The Department of Health (DOH) is fast-tracking the rollout of vaccines in the National Capital Region (NCR) and eight other areas in the Philippines, a move they say will help in achieving herd immunity sooner. 

According to DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, the national government is pushing to vaccinate 180,000 Filipinos a day in the NCR, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Rizal, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao as the supply of vaccines in the country increase. 

The national health agency expects herd immunity to be achieved in the NCR Plus region by November of this year. 

“Ang tina-target natin ay by November at least for the NCR plus,” Cabotaje noted in PTV’s Laging Handa press briefing.

However, the target can only be attained if the COVID-19 vaccine supply is sufficient. Cabotaje assured that this will be the case as more anti-coronavirus shots are scheduled to arrive in the country in the second and third quarters of 2021. 

“We will receive about 10 to 11 million doses ng June, July, August so more or less steady ‘yan so we will be able to reach a lot of vaccinees especially in the NCR plus areas,” she informed. 

At present, the national government’s vaccine rollout has administered 3.2 million vaccines – two months after it broke ground. Out of this population, 786,000 have been fully inoculated while 2.5 million have received the first dose. 

Health workers were the first to be given the shots against COVID-19, however, the priority list has since been stretched out to include the A2 and A3 blocks – comprised of senior citizens and persons with comorbidities. 

Cabotaje said the inoculation program will soon be extended to employees of essential industries and the impoverished sector, especially those in the capital region. 

“Ico-concentrate natin sa geographic areas kung saan nandoon ‘yung surge ng cases,” she said.

Meanwhile, the government is set to send out representatives to monitor the increase in COVID-19 cases in areas of Visayas and Mindanao. 

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez and Testing czar Vince Dizon will be flying out to Zamboanga to find out the cause of the jump in infections. 

Areas with higher COVID-19 numbers will be given priority when it comes to vaccine delivery, Cabotaje said.

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