WHO exec urges PHL to hold new round of vaccination prior to Yuletide holidays


The World Health Organization (WHO) is now urging the government to conduct another round of vaccination this month just before the upcoming Christmas holidays to reduce the risk of resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said the measure will be crucial in thick of global concerns over the Covid-causing Omicron variant of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

“It’s important because we are in a scenario that we now have potential circulation of Omicron globally and even besides that, we are ahead of the Christmas season that we know that there could be a lot of gatherings and arrivals from abroad,” Abeyasinghe said in televised interview with PTV last Monday.

Omicron was declared a variant of concern by the WHO since its heavy mutations is said to make it more infectious compared to other SARS-CoV-2 variants.

As of Tuesday, Omicron cases were detected in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

WHO lauded the conduct of the National Vaccination Days (NVD), which started last Monday, since it will help increase the number of people who are protected against Covid-19.

However, it did express some concern over the overcrowding as well as the lack of priority lanes for the vulnerable sector in  vaccination centers, which it noted, should be addressed by the government in the remaining days of the NVD.

“Overall, WHO is fully supporting the campaign. We are talking with the Department of Health already on the potential replication within the month of December,” Abeyasinghe said.

The government is targeting to vaccinate 3 million people per day during the three-day NVD, which will end on Thursday.

However, during the first day of the event, National Vaccination Operation Center Chairman Myrna C. Cabotaje said they were only able to register a total of 2.5 million people.

While this fell short of their target, it was more than double than the average 1 million vaccinated individuals the government is able to inoculate on regular days.

Cabotaje noted the regions with the biggest number of vaccinated individuals under the NVD are Regions 4A, 3, 6, 7, and 5.

Acting Presidential spokesman Karlo B. Nograles said they hope the NVD will allow the government to reach the target of fully vaccinating 54 million people before the end of the year.

As of Monday, the government was only able to register 35.6 million fully vaccinated people nationwide.

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