MANILA — Noting the arrival of more vaccines in recent weeks, the Department of Health (DOH) on May 14 said they are now eyeing 120,000 inoculations per day, up from the 70,000 to 80,000 initial target. 

DOH Undersec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said recipients no longer need to be screened for vital signs before inoculation to speed up the process. Instead, they will conduct a “time and motion study” to speed up the slow queue movements.

“Through the weeks and months, our seven-day moving average of vaccinated people is increasing,” Vergeire said.

“Our target now is to reach 120,000 jabs per day and I think we can reach this sooner when more vaccines come in,” she added, noting that the seven-day moving average was at 67,780 per day as of May 11.

Vergeire explained that their plan to omit taking blood pressure, temperature, oxygen level, pulse rate and heart rate has been approved by the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and Technical Advisory Group experts and based on the recommendation of the Philippine Heart Association and Philippine Society of Hypertension.

Vergeire said high or elevated blood pressure does not mean a person cannot be vaccinated.

“What we need to monitor is the blood pressure that reaches 180/120 or more,” she added, ensuring that healthcare workers will monitor those with established hypertension and visible organ damage. 

She said the guideline will also avoid crowding of vaccine recipients as there are those not master-listed for inoculation but still go to the vaccination site. 

“Hopefully, our local government units will implement this so that we can address the issue of long lines in vaccination sites,” she said. 

MORE VACCINES ARRIVING

In a report by The Philippine Star, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on May 13 that the country expects full procurement of around 158 million doses and 44 million from the global COVAX Facility.

Galvez also noted that as of May 12, the Philippines administered around 2.6 million doses of vaccines and a total inventory of 21.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses is expected by the end of June. 

“Our total computation before is only 148 (million) because we get it at a lower price. Now, we will get the 202 million doses. We will be able to purchase this and it will be given to us by COVAX,” he said, noting negotiations with Sinovac and AstraZeneca are also on track and the vaccines ordered by the local government units (LGUs) will be arriving soon.

“We will finalize the (Novavax) agreement (soon) because the LGU and the private sector want to share 30 million,” he said. He also stated that Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute will deliver 1.3 million doses this month while 250,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine will be coming in June. 

Galvez, during the launch of the private sector-led Ingat Angat Bakuna Lahat campaign on May 14, also noted that they are expecting a final agreement with Johnson and Johnson while the term sheet for the procurement of 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE was signed last May 15. 

Galvez said most of the vaccines will be given to areas with the highest infection rate including the National Capital Region (NCR), its adjoining provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.

NO VACCINE PASSES

In another report by The Philippine Star, DOH Undersec. Vergeire said there was meager evidence suggesting fully-vaccinated individuals will no longer get sick or transmit COVID-19 to other people as the Health department disapproved the proposed “vaccine passes.”

“As we have said, the benefit that we can get from vaccines is reducing severe infections and hospitalization. As to preventing mild to moderate infections, we cannot give that assurance to the public,” Vergeire said.

“Even if you are fully vaccinated, meaning you have completed two doses, you still need to follow minimum health protocols. The DOH cannot recommend this so-called vaccine pass yet,” she added.

Based on Reuters’ COVID-19 Trackerthe country has so far administered at least 2,921,196 doses of COVID-19 vaccines or about 1.4 percent of the population while the average number of new infections reported each day fell by more than 2,800 over the last three weeks or 26 percent of the previous peak. 

As of May 17, the Philippines’ total COVID-19 cases is at 1,149,925 after logging 5,979 new infections.

There are now 54,235 active cases, 1,076,428 total recoveries and 19,262 total deaths.

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