Philippines launches massive COVID-19 vaccination

The Philippines on November 29 kicked off a massive three-day vaccination drive as it tries to head off a surge that the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus could cause.

Health workers administrate COVID-19 vaccine to people in Manila, the Philippines (Photo: AFP/VNA)
Health workers administrate COVID-19 vaccine to people in Manila, the Philippines (Photo: AFP/VNA)

“This is our single biggest push to fast-track vaccination and reach our target of 70 percent population protection nationwide,” said President Rodrigo Duterte, as cited by the Straits Times.

“We will overcome this pandemic, and come out stronger and better as a nation,” he said during a visit to a vaccination site at a mall east of the capital Manila to officially start the campaign.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19, said 3 million vaccinations per day is nearly four times the average of 829,000 daily shots in November.

The Philippines has temporarily suspended a decision to allow fully vaccinated tourists entry in a bid to prevent a new coronavirus variant from taking off in the country.

So far, the country has not reported any cases of the Omicron strain, which was first detected in South Africa and has since spread around the globe.

The country announced plans last week to allow fully vaccinated tourists from most countries to enter from December 1 as it seeks to revive the nation's battered economy.

But the government's COVID-19 taskforce reversed course over the weekend as it announced the suspension of flights from seven European countries, in addition to an earlier ban on arrivals from several African nations.

Around one-third of the country's 110 million people are fully vaccinated.

The Philippines has recorded more than 2.8 million infections since the start of the pandemic, including over 48,000 deaths.