Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday called for more vaccinations among senior citizens and departing overseas Filipino workers as thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses procured by the private sector are reportedly nearing expiration.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Benjamin Co said some 200,000 to 300,000 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines purchased by the private sector are about to expire in November as the intended beneficiaries opted to get the vaccines from the government.
"Kung may extrang ganito, i-prioritize na natin una yung seniors kasi marami pa ring seniors ang hindi nababakunahan," Robredo said during her weekly radio program.
"Tapos kung dito sa Manila naubos na yung seniors at mga health workers, sana yung mga OFW, halimbawa mga seafarers natin, ang daming naghihintay na mabakunahan, ito yung tamang bakuna para sa kanila," she added.
Robredo said many countries only allow entry of travellers who have been vaccinated with certain brands, including Moderna.
"Kung meron lang naman na available na ganito, bakit hindi na natin unahin yung mga OFWs?" she said.
Co had suggested that the extra vaccines be used to inoculate minors. Moderna along with Pfizer have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for pediatric vaccination.
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said the government would not allow vaccines to go to waste.
"Gagamitin natin yan. Hindi problema yung sinasabi nilang pa-expire, ihahabol natin yan. Marami pa tayong mga kababayan na hindi pa natuturukan lalo na sa labas ng NCR," he said in a separate DZBB interview.
"Marami naman tayong pagbibigyan ng mga bakunang ito at hindi dapat ito ma-expire," he added.
The Philippines has fully vaccinated 25 million people as of Oct. 22, versus the target of 90% of its 109 million population.