MANILA (Reuters) – A delay in deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines has forced some cities in the capital region to close vaccination sites, complicating Manila’s efforts to speed up its vaccination campaign.
Presidency spokesman Harry Roque on Thursday called for understanding, while assuring the public “we will have more supplies in the coming months and everyone will be vaccinated”.
Only 4.5 million of the 7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines due to arrive in May have been delivered, Carlito Galvez, head of the government’s vaccine supply program, told DZMM radio on Wednesday.
The delay came just as the government opened up vaccination to an estimated 35 million people working outside their homes, to curb the transmission of COVID-19 and open up the economy.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said some vaccination sites in her city were being forced to close due to the “erratic” supply.
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“If we are at full power we can already activate 15 sites, but given the supply we are only activating 8 vaccination sites,” Belmonte told CNN Philippines.
Quezon City is the most populous city in the Philippines, with 2.9 million people, and accounts for 8% of the country’s total 1.28 million COVID-19 infections.
In Marikina City, 18,000 people were awaiting the arrival of new vaccines, its mayor Marcelino Teodoro told CNN Philippines.
“The problem is no longer the reluctance to vaccinate (but) the constant supply of vaccines,” Teodoro said.
A shipment of 2.28 million Pfizer / Biotech vaccines secured via COVAX was due to arrive in the country on Thursday, but they will be distributed to the elderly, people with existing health problems and the poor.
Including Thursday’s vaccine delivery, the Philippines will have received a total of 12.6 million COVID-19 vaccines, mostly from China, and through the Global Vaccine Sharing Program.
As of June 7, authorities in the Philippines had fully vaccinated 2.3% of the 70 million people they aim to inoculate against COVID-19 this year.
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; editing by Ed Davies)
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