The start of vaccination for the general population – targeted in mid-October – is welcome news. It would be even more welcome if there are enough vaccines to go around.
This, unfortunately, is not the case. Even in Metro Manila, where the bulk of COVID vaccines has been concentrated, the inoculation of adult priority groups is not yet even completed except in cities with small populations such as San Juan. The slow vaccine rollout is one of the factors cited by various economic analysts in lowering their outlooks for growth in the Philippines this year as well as for pandemic resilience.
Outside Metro Manila, local government executives are also pointing to the inadequacy of vaccine supplies for the weak capability to contain the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, which several health experts say is also deadlier.
General vaccination will make the resumption of face-to-face classes possible at least for more courses at the tertiary level. After medical and allied courses, limited in-person classes have been approved by President Duterte for engineering and technology, hotel and restaurant management, tourism and travel management, marine engineering and marine transportation.
While the in-person classes will be allowed only in areas at low risk of COVID infection, it would still be better if the students and teachers alike would be fully vaccinated. Delta is proving to be so transmissible that even some vaccinated persons are seeing breakthrough infections, putting at risk unvaccinated and vulnerable members of their household.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines for use among adolescents aged 12 to 15 and 12 to 17, respectively. Supplies of these two vaccine brands, however, are very much limited. With global vaccine supplies still inadequate, the government should avoid overpromising and raising expectations of wider vaccination coverage.