The government has been working non-stop to make sure the Covid-19 vaccination program will continue to improve, National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said on Saturday.
Despite a slow start last year due to limited vaccine supplies globally, Galvez said the daily inoculation rate rose from a few thousand doses to millions of jabs as the shipments started to arrive in bulk during the third quarter of 2021.
“First of all, the Philippine government remains committed, more than ever, to vaccinate all qualified Filipinos against Covid-19 amidst the challenges we continue to face,” Galvez said in a statement, reacting to the World Bank report on the country’s slow vaccination rollout.
Galvez said the government’s “massive and unprecedented” vaccination strategies since March last year proved effective, not only in scaling up the inoculation capacities of local government units (LGUs) but also in increasing vaccine acceptance.
“The vaunted bayanihan (cooperation) spirit among all sectors of society and levels of government shone through and has been at the core of the national government’s pandemic response and mitigation efforts,” he said.
Galvez, however, noted external factors that hampered the government’s ability to maximize such partnerships and slowed down vaccination efforts.
“Among these factors was the onslaught of Typhoon Odette in December, whose impact in major areas across the Visayas and Mindanao are still being felt and being addressed by the government to this day. The typhoon struck six regions in the country, all of which were starting to ramp up their vaccination throughput,” he said.
The disaster, Galvez said, forced LGUs to temporarily suspend their rollouts to respond to immediate needs such as food, medicine, and shelters.
“Moreover, the upcoming elections are also diverting the attention of some of our local chief executives from the efficient implementation of their vaccination drive, which we believe is the more important task at hand,” he added.
Galvez hopes that local leaders would set aside their personal interests and prioritize the health and protection of their constituents amid another surge in Covid-19 cases.