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Updated criteria for vaccine priority areas ok’d

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has updated the criteria for the identification of priority areas for the mass vaccination drive to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“The IATF approved the updated criteria for selecting priority areas for Covid-19 vaccines deployment of the Department of Health, in consultation with the interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group for Covid-19 Vaccines,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement yesterday.

Roque, however, did not elaborate on the updated criteria approved by the IATF-EID.

In December last year, the government announced that 12 coronavirus-hit areas have been classified as priority areas for its free vaccination drive.

The mass vaccination campaign would focus on epicenters of the Covid-19 pandemic, including Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Davao City, Cebu City, Cagayan de Oro, Baguio City, Bacolod, Iloilo, Zamboanga City, Tacloban City, and General Santos City.

The priority areas have been identified based on the two-week growth rate of active Covid-19 cases, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said.

Front-line health workers, uniformed personnel, select government workers, senior citizens, and indigents are among those who will be prioritized in the government’s vaccination drive.

In an interview with DZRH, Roque reassured the public that the Covid-19 vaccines that will be administered in the country are “safe and effective.”

“Our criteria for purchasing a vaccine is that it should be safe and effective,” Roque said.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed the signing of a tripartite deal among the national government, local government units, and private firms to secure 17 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

Duterte, in a recorded speech aired during the ceremonial signing of the tripartite deal, viewed the agreement as a “true showcase of unity of purpose and principled partnership benefiting our public”. On Wednesday, Galvez announced that Covid-19 vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the United States’ Pfizer, and the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca may arrive in the country as early as February.*PNA

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