Metro Manila — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said it would take 45 days to vaccinate more than 24 million Filipinos using non-Pfizer vaccine once these become available.
During a Senate hearing, Duque said this took into account two doses of the vaccine, as well as the 4,504 vaccination sites nationwide, three vaccination teams per hospital, and two vaccination teams per rural health unit.
He said non-Pfizer vaccines require less-complicated handling, including refrigerator-level storage, so the rollout could take longer. On the other hand, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs minus-70 degrees Celsius freezers so rollout should be fast or around half of the period for other brands, Duque added.
Senator Richard Gordon suggested that vaccination sites operate for 24/7 to fast-track the program.
The government is targeting to acquire 148 million vaccine doses, and inoculate up to 70 million people this year.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez. Jr. said bulk of the delivery is expected by the third and fourth quarters. Immunization will take place until the first quarter of 2022.
Duque said he will try to convince President Rodrigo Duterte to get vaccinated publicly to boost vaccine confidence among Filipinos.
“We will try to convince the President to perhaps publicly allow himself to be vaccinated, but will respect his decision,” he said.
Based on a poll by Pulse Asia, 47% of adults do not want to take the vaccine over safety concerns.
Meanwhile, Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo said the decision on the application of AstraZeneca for emergency use authorization country is expected to be out before end-January, while Sinovac and Gamaleya are still completing their requirements.
For Sinovac, he said the expected release of the decision on February 20, just in time for the expected arrival of 50,000 doses, is the best-case scenario and will depend on how fast the manufacturer responds to queries.
The regulator has granted EUA to the Pfizer vaccine.