Mayor says limited supply 'real issue' in PH vaccine rollout, no option to choose brand

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 12) — A mayor is flagging the country’s tight stock of COVID-19 vaccine doses at present and how this hampers inoculation efforts as well as the public’s ability to choose when it comes to vaccine brands.

“The real issue about the vaccine is the supply. We have a very limited supply of vaccines kaya nakakaranas tayo ngayon ng napakabagal na [and that’s why we’re currently experiencing very slow] deployment and administration of the vaccine,” Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro told CNN Philippines’ The Exchange with Rico Hizon.

The Metro Manila mayor emphasized that the country is only in its first priority group for vaccination: medical frontliners. The Philippines only kickstarted its vaccination drive last March 1, among the latest Southeast Asian countries to do so, with the arrival of 600,000 donated China-made CoronaVac vaccines.

The country’s 525,000 doses allocation from the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility arrived a few days after.

Pati yung [Even the] option to choose—and the right to refuse—if you want a particular brand is being absent at this point in time. Nawawala, dahil wala nga walang mapagpilian na bakuna,” added Teodoro.

[Translation: It’s missing because there aren’t enough vaccines to choose from.]

The government projects millions of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine doses more from the COVAX facility will be arriving in the second quarter of the year, along with initial procurements from Sinovac and Novavax. 

Authorities hope to inoculate 50 to 70 million Filipinos by year-end as they aim for herd immunity against the contagious disease.

The Philippines already has over 611,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with experts flagging the surge in cases recorded on a daily basis.

RELATED: OCTA projection: Up to 6,000 new daily COVID-19 cases in PH by end-March