PH begins rollout of J&J COVID-19 vaccines

Philippine vaccinators have begun using the US-donated COVID-19 jabs from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to immunize individuals from the coronavirus.

Tacloban City was among the first local government units (LGUs) to administer the single-dose vaccine, inoculating over 2,000 people on Tuesday, July 20.

Some Metro Manila cities were scheduled to follow suit on Wednesday, July 21, including San Juan, Caloocan, and Manila.

Some 600 senior citizens and persons with comorbidities in San Juan, and another 7,500 senior citizens in Caloocan were set to receive the single-dose vaccine.

The local governments’ share came from the shipment of 3.2 million J&J vaccine doses that arrived in the Philippines on July 16 and 17.

San Juan, a small city of over 120,000 people, was the first in the Philippines to surpass a 70% first-dose vaccination target on July 12, four months since the country began its legal immunization drive.

The arrival of J&J jabs is expected to boost the pace of inoculations in Metro Manila’s least populous city, so that it can fully vaccinate its target population of 85,000 by mid-August. 

Manila meanwhile has partially vaccinated 676,000 people as of Tuesday, accounting for 84% of its 800,000 target population. On Monday, July 18, ​​Manila became the second LGU after Quezon City to achieve the milestone of administering one million vaccine doses to residents and workers.

Delta variant threat

The J&J doses are the sixth COVID-19 vaccine brand to become widely available in the Philippines. The J&J vaccine does not need to be refrigerated in ultra-low temperature freezers, paving the way for easier rollout. 

Recent reports also showed that J&J shots measure up in the fight against the highly infectious Delta variant, a notable detail as the Philippines tries to stop such a variant from upending the Philippines’ economic recovery.

As of Tuesday, active COVID-19 Delta cases in the country stood at eight. Experts believe the presence of variants underscores the need to vaccinate more people at the soonest possible time.

Only 4.7 million people in the Philippines have been fully inoculated against COVID-19 out of 10.3 million first-dose vaccine recipients as of July 18. – Rappler.com