The Philippines is "ready" to roll out its COVID-19 immunization program by Feb. 15, Malacañang said Monday even as vaccine supplies have yet to arrive in the country a week before the target date.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said vaccine supplies are expected to arrive in the next few days, and initial doses can be administered next week.
"Handang-handa po ang ating gobyerno para magsimula ang ating vaccination drive nitong ika-15 ng Pebrero," Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
(Our government is ready to start our vaccination drive this Feb. 15.)
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, which was the first to receive authorization for emergency use in the Philippines, is expected to be the first to be distributed to Filipinos. Under the government's immunization plan, health workers are first in line to receive jabs.
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Initially, Philippine officials expected China's Sinovac to deliver the country's first COVID-19 vaccine supplies but the company has yet to receive emergency use authorization from the local Food and Drug Administration.
Aside from Pfizer, only AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use locally.
The expected shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines will come from the COVAX facility, a global alliance that aims to ensure equitable access to vaccines.
The Philippines is catching up with other countries that have started their COVID-19 vaccination programs as early as December as it guards against the threat of virus variants.
This year, authorities are eyeing to vaccinate some 50 to 70 million Filipinos against the virus that has infected over 500,000 people in the country.