(PNA file photo)

MANILA – The country's vaccine czar wants to make sure that areas with low Covid-19 vaccination coverage can catch up with other regions that have already inoculated 70 percent of their target population.

This was assured by Dr. Ted Herbosa, special medical adviser of the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19, during a virtual Laging Handa public briefing on Wednesday.

Herbosa said Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar, will be visiting the provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and in some other areas, to ramp up the vaccination drive in the country.

"Pupunta doon sa ibang areas ng BARMM para makumbinsi at matingnan po kung ano ang mga problema kung bakit mabagal ang ating vaccination progress diyan sa mga lugar na iyan (He will be visiting other areas in BARMM to convince and check the existing problems why there's slow vaccination progress in that areas)," Herbosa said.

Galvez earlier cited most regions in the country have hit at least 70 percent of their target population for the Covid-19 vaccination program.

Five of these regions exceeded 80 percent vaccination coverage, including Metro Manila (114.1 percent), Ilocos Region (86.4 percent), Cagayan Valley (83.58 percent), Central Luzon (83.4 percent), Cordillera Administrative Region (82.51 percent), and Calabarzon (79.77 percent).

Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Caraga, Mimaropa, Central Visayas and Soccsksargen regions posted a vaccination coverage ranging from 60 to 69 percent.

Galvez emphasized the need to further scale up the vaccination program and address hesitancy in some areas nationwide, particularly in the BARMM, that are lagging behind with only 28.02 percent of their population who are fully vaccinated.

Herbosa said the NTF will also revisit the Covid-19 vaccination program and will analyze the lingering reasons for the slow inoculation pace in some areas.

"May mga lugar na mababa pa siyempre, titingnan at iaanalisa kung papaano natin mapapabilis pa at mabigyan ng bakuna ang ating mga mamamayan doon (The are areas that are still lagging, it will be looked into as to how it could be expedited and provide vaccine to the residents there)," Herbosa said.

So far, some 61,225,811 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated, including those who received the single-dose Janssen and Sputnik Light jabs, with 9,161,128 eligible individuals already with booster doses.

The government's "Bayanihan, Bakunahan" drive for the adult population is ongoing until Feb. 18, aimed at ramping up the administration of Covid-19 primary series and booster shots.

More reformulated Pfizer jabs

Herbosa said the Philippines will be receiving another delivery of 780,000 reformulated low-dosage jabs of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday night.

He said the next shipment of the low-dosing jabs will be used for the expanded vaccination program of pediatric aged group 5-11 nationwide.

"So pangatlong deliver na ito ng ating pediatric ano, similar amounts, so parang nasa 2 million plus na ang ating supply nitong mga five to eleven and lahat ng region pinapayagan nang magbakuna ng five to eleven (This is the third delivery for our pediatric group, similar amounts, so we have likely 2 million supply for 5–11 and all the regions are now allowed to inoculate 5-11)," Herbosa said.

The government is also ramping the provision of complete doses for adolescents aged 12-17 years old, he added.

"Tuluy-tuloy ang pagbabakuna natin niyan at marami tayong supply (Our vaccination continues, and we have a lot of supply)," Herbosa noted.

The Philippines has so far received 1,560,000 doses of government-procured reformulated Pfizer vaccine, with a total of 149,612 kids 5-11 receiving their first dose since the rollout began on February 7. (PNA)