Philippines starts three-day, nine million person COVID jab drive

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Officials say the emergence of the Omicron variant has underscored the need for vaccination against the coronavirus.

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The Philippines has launched an ambitious campaign to vaccinate nine million people against COVID-19 in three days, as it temporarily postponed a decision to allow fully vaccinated tourists into the country following the emergence of the Omicron version. is suspended.

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The vaccination campaign was cut short of an earlier target of 15 million shots, but it will still be a record in a country where vaccine hesitation remains a barrier and logistical barriers to reaching people in the vast archipelago.

The three million vaccinations per day is almost four times the average of 829,000 daily shots in November.

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An official said the news of the Omron edition made the campaign even more important.

“It’s better to be prepared for the effects of Omicron,” the country’s vaccination chief Carlito Galvez told CNN Philippines on Monday.

The spread of Omicron, which the World Health Organization describes as “a sort of worry”, has led to global travel restrictions.

Manila announced plans last week to allow fully vaccinated tourists from most countries to enter from December 1, but the government’s COVID-19 task force reversed course over the weekend as it broke through an earlier ban. In addition, the suspension of flights from seven European countries was announced. Upon arrival from several African countries.

“The IATF deemed it necessary to suspend the entry of foreign tourists, given concerns around the world over the Omicron version,” Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morante said on Monday, using the acronym for the task force.

People queue at the vaccination centre. Manila said the emergence of Omichrome made the campaign even more important [Peter Blaza/Reuters]

The Philippines has suffered one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia and has been slower than many of its neighbors in vaccinating its people. About 35.6 million people have been fully vaccinated, or a third of its 110 million population.

The country aims to vaccinate 54 million people by the end of 2021 and 77 million by next March.

Although new cases have fallen sharply to an average of 1,679 per day in November, from more than 18,000 a day in September, vaccination rates remain uneven.

According to government data, while 93 percent of the capital region’s residents were fully vaccinated by mid-November, only 10.9 percent were in Muslim-majority areas in the southern Philippines.

The government says it will deploy 160,000 volunteers to 11,000 vaccination sites across the country for the three-day campaign.

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