PH gov't 'ready' to start COVID-19 vaccination drive on Feb 15 — Roque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 8) — The Philippine government is ready to start its COVID-19 vaccination drive on February 15, Malacañang bared on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a briefing that the government can start the deployment of the initial doses of vaccines by next week.

"Ilang tulog na lang at darating na ang unang batch ng ating bakuna...Handang handa po ang ating gobyerno para magsimula ang ating vaccination drive nitong ika-15 ng Pebrero," Roque said.

[Translation: The government is totally ready to start the vaccination drive this February 15.]

He then clarified that the target date for inoculation will still depend on the arrival of the vaccines from the COVAX facility, a global platform led by the World Health Organization that aims to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines. COVAX already conveyed that the arrival is slated for the middle of the month, Roque said.

"The COVAX communication says it will be mid-February. I think this week, COVAX will communicate to tell us exactly when," he said.

"Let's see po baka mamayang gabi maireport na ni Secretary Duque kay President Duterte exactly when (Let's see, Secretary Duque may report to President Duterte on tonight's briefing the exact date), but we're expecting COVAX to contact us anytime now because they will ship the [Pfizer-BioNTech] vaccines via airline."

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to address the public after meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases later in the day.

Under the government's immunization plan, health workers will be the first to get the shots.

These are expected to arrive in the second or third week of February to cover around 56,000 medical frontliners and hospital staff at the Philippine General Hospital, Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium or Tala Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, and the East Avenue Medical Center.