COVID-19

Israel experts arrive in PH to aid in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Sofia Tomacruz
Israel experts arrive in PH to aid in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

EXPERTS. A team of doctors from the Israeli health ministry arrives in the Philippines on June 20, 2021.

National Task Force Against COVID-19

The three-person team from Israel is expected to share technical expertise on vaccination, from handling sensitive shots to increasing public confidence in vaccines

A team of three doctors from Israel’s health ministry arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, June 20, to assist with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the country. 

The National Task Force Against COVID-19 confirmed the arrival to reporters, saying that doctors Avraham Ben Zaken, Adam Nicholas Segal, and Dafna Segol arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 4:15 pm on Sunday.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the experts are expected to help improve the Philippines’ program by sharing their technical expertise on vaccination, from handling sensitive shots to increasing public confidence in vaccines.

Israel has been considered a world leader when it comes to vaccination, with data showing at least 59% of its population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday, June 18. Its vaccination rate is among the highest in the world, along with Bahrain, Chile, the United Kingdom, Hungary, and the United States.

In a recent statement, Galvez said the Israeli team would discuss strategies to deploy highly sensitive vaccines such as the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which has been used in Israel’s vaccination campaign.

The team will also tackle health mechanisms that may be implemented as the Philippines gradually transitions to looser quarantine restrictions, as well as ways to address vaccine hesitancy.

The Israeli experts will be in the country until Friday, June 25.

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Why this matters

Since the launch of COVID-19 vaccination in the Philippines last March 1, the program has moved slowly as supplies are still not enough to cover priority sectors. Deliveries have also remained erratic, with shipments often arriving later than scheduled.

Public surveys conducted months into the rollout have also shown increasing vaccine hesitancy in the Philippines, with only 3 out of 10 Filipino adults saying they were willing to get vaccinated. The Social Weather Stations survey done late April to May found almost as many were unwilling to get vaccinated or were still uncertain.

Data from the Philippines’ national vaccine operation center showed that around 4.66% of the country’s population have received the first of two doses of the vaccine, while 1.73% of the population are fully vaccinated. 

The Philippines is targeting to vaccinate at least 50 million Filipinos or majority of its adult population in 2021. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.