By Teddy Cambosa

In direct contrast to their initial statement of rejecting vax initiatives in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus 8, the Department of Health (DOH) in the Philippines has now rallied its support to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s statement of prioritizing vaccination to said region.

For context, the NCR Plus 8 region includes the areas including NCR, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal. Based on the latest data, 67% of the vaccine supply is distributed to NCR, Regions 4A, III, VII, and XI.

According to a press release, they are eyeing for the NCR Plus Region 8 due to the fact it has been determined to be the most populous and of highest density in the country, thus putting these at the greatest risk for COVID-19 transmission. Such risks have economic and social implications, which are inherently tied to health and nutrition outcomes.

In addition, The DOH further clarified that Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire’s statement was in response to the recommendation to allocate 90% of vaccines to the NCR Plus. This is not only impractical, but is also inappropriate and inequitable. 

“There is a continuous need to allocate to other regions especially to cover the remaining A1, A2, and A3 population groups who have not been vaccinated, consistent with the objective of reducing hospitalizations and deaths among high risk population groups. Aside from this, allocation remains to be dependent on incoming supplies,” DOH said in a press statement.

Based on existing DOH data, the Philippines registered a daily average of 166,861 doses administered over a 7 day period last May 23, the highest since the start of the COVID-19 vaccination program. During the same period, a total of 3.2 million Filipinos have already been vaccinated with their 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine while around 960,000 have already received their 2nd dose.

Teddy Cambosa is a graduating BS Biology student and a former campus journalist at Batangas State University.