Philippines cuts target for ambitious three-day vaccination sprint


FILE PHOTO: Health workers in hazmat suits walk outside the Manila COVID-19 Field Hospital in Manila, Philippines, September 7, 2021. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines has slashed its inoculation target for an ambitious three-day national vaccination push due to a shortage of supplies and other logistical challenges, authorities said on Saturday.

The Southeast Asian nation is facing the region's second-highest COVID-19 infections and deaths, and officials tagged vaccination as key to a sustainable economic recovery in what was one of the region's fastest growing economies before the pandemic.

Target vaccination output for the Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 "National Vaccination Days" was cut to nine million from 15 million, the national task force said in a statement. The targeted three million shots a day is nearly four times the country's 829,000 average daily doses for November.

"There is currently a shortage in ancillary supplies, particularly syringes for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines and other logistical challenges," the task force said.

While 95% of the capital region's eligible population were already fully vaccinated, barely half of residents in the provinces have completed their inoculation, government data show. The Philippines has so far fully inoculated roughly 35 million or 45% of its eligible population.

To achieve its goal of inoculating 54 million Filipinos by year-end, the government will hold another three-day national inoculation event on Dec. 15 to 17.

The national vaccination days aim to increase the Philippines' first-dose coverage to 70% from 58% and increase the booster jabs, while the Dec. 15 to 17 activities will focus on second doses and boosters.

"Again, we enjoin everyone to get vaccinated and be a hero to your family and loved ones," the task force said.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Philippines has reported 2.83 million infections and 48,017 coronavirus-related deaths, as it remains on alert for Omicron https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/who-meeting-friday-designate-new-variant-b11529-2021-11-26, which the World Health Organization has described as a "variant of concern".

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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