Philippines races to vaccinate 9 million people in 3 days under threat of omicron

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The Philippines has launched an ambitious campaign to vaccinate nine million people against COVID-19 in three days, deploying security forces and thousands of volunteers in a program urgently designed to combat the threats of the Omicron variant .

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Although the earlier target of 15 million shots was dropped, nine million would still be a significant number in an archipelago nation where logistics and vaccine hitch barriers.

The Philippines is dealing with one of Asia’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks and its vaccine rollout has been slower than many neighbors, with just over a third of its 110 million population vaccinated.


“This is our biggest push for rapid vaccination,” Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday at a vaccination center east of the capital Manila.

At many of the 8,000 vaccine sites where 160,000 volunteers were working, police were helping hundreds of people queue while parents brought children to get vaccinated.

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“It’s important for us to avoid COVID-19 and for us when we have face-to-face classes in the future,” 12-year-old Sean Gerald Valdez said after being vaccinated.

The 30 lakh daily vaccinations during November would be nearly quadruple the national average of 829,000.

The country’s vaccination chief Carlito Galvez said the new Omicron version made the campaign even more important.

“It’s better to be prepared for the effects of Omicron,” he told CNN Philippines.

Omicron, which the World Health Organization describes as “a type of anxiety”, has not yet been detected in the Philippines. Its spread has rattled global travel restrictions and financial markets.

Average new daily infections in November fell sharply to 1,644 from 18,579 in September, paving the way for a broader economic reopening.

The vaccination rate is uneven, however, with 93 percent of eligible residents of the capital region being vaccinated, compared to 11 percent in the poorest parts of the South.



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