10 more cities join gov’t Covid-19 vaccine prioritization

By Azer Parrocha

June 24, 2021, 1:58 pm

<p><em>File photo</em></p>

File photo

MANILA – Ten more cities are joining National Capital Region Plus 8 (NCR Plus 8) in the government’s Covid-19 vaccination prioritization, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the 10 cities that will also be prioritized are Bacolod, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Baguio, Zamboanga, Dumaguete, Tuguegarao, General Santos, Naga, and Legaspi.

Initially, only NCR Plus 8—composed of Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Batangas, Rizal, Bulacan, Metro Davao, Metro Cebu—were the areas prioritized for Covid-19 vaccination.

“Kasama sa mga lugar na bibigyan priyoridad sa pagbabakuna maliban sa NCR Plus ay ang Plus 10 na tinatawag so mayroon po tayong ‘NCR Plus 8, Plus 10’ (Among the areas that will be given priority in vaccination aside from NCR Plus is what we call Plus 10 so we now have ‘NCR Plus 8, Plus 10’),” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

He said the basis for including these 10 cities in vaccine prioritization is a surge in Covid-19 cases as well as their being highly urbanized and dense environments, and their contributions to the economy.

OCTA Research member and University of Santo Tomas Biological Sciences professor Fr. Nicanor Austriaco said it is attainable that the country reaches containment or population protection in NCR Plus by Christmas.

He, however, said reaching containment of NCR Plus 8, Plus 10 is attainable by Easter 2022.

The NCR Plus 8, Plus 10 strategy, he said, does not mean that the government is excluding the rest of the country.

Austriaco said there will be parallel vaccinations outside the NCR Plus 8, Plus 10 to cover those most at risk.

“With the NCR Plus 8, Plus 10 exit strategy, Filipinos living in rural areas would be at low risk for Covid-19 even if they are not vaccinated…Vaccinating the cities would protect our rural kababayans from the virus,” he said.

He said the immediate goal should be a “cities-wide” herd immunity instead of country-wide population protection.

“If you build a Covid proof wall around the cities, it is actually a wall around our entire country…it will allow even our non-vaccinated kababayans to live safety because they are protected by those who live in the cities who are themselves vaccinated,” he added.

As of June 22, a total of 8,928,249 doses of Covid-19 have been administered. Of this number, 2,246,897 have been fully vaccinated.

The country has so far secured a total of 16,205,876 doses of Covid-19 vaccines with the arrival of two million additional Sinovac jabs on Thursday. (PNA)