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Philippines launches ambitious covid vaccination drive amid omicron

The Philippines on Monday launched an ambitious three-day vaccination drive to give Covid-19 shots to up to 9 million Filipinos amid the threat of the highly mutated Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Manila, 29 November 2021 (dpa/MIA) — The Philippines on Monday launched an ambitious three-day vaccination drive to give covid shots to up to 9 million Filipinos amid the threat of the highly mutated omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Tens of thousands of security forces and volunteers were deployed nationwide to implement the campaign, which was being held as the country again imposed international travel restrictions.

“The national vaccination day is very timely and truly a milestone in our covid-19 pandemic response and mitigation efforts,” said Carlito Galvez, the country’s vaccination chief. “Inoculating 9 million individuals in three days … is our most ambitious target so far.”

That would mean vaccinating 3 million people a day, or nearly four times the average of 813,734 daily doses in the past week, according to the Department of Health.

Before Monday, more than 35.78 million Filipinos had been fully vaccinated, or over 32 percent of the country’s total population of 110 million, the department said.

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

Galvez said that with country’s increasing supply of vaccines, the key was now to “accelerate and expand the capacity” of local government units, especially those outside the capital region of Metro Manila, to reach all those eligible for shots.

At the weekend, the Philippines banned flights from 14 countries, including seven European nations, due to rising covid cases and the detection of the omicron variant.

The government also indefinitely delayed a previous decision to start accepting some foreign tourists again from Dec. 1.

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