Pediatric vaccination at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. (PHOTO FROM PCMC)

MANILA, Philippines — It was a “dramatic decline” in COVID-19 vaccinations that prompted the government to schedule its fourth nationwide vaccination drive from March 10 to 12, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Monday during the weekly taped “Tell the People” briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Galvez, the nationwide vaccination manager, said that in November last year, the government was able to administer 9.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses but it dropped to 8.7 million in February.

“There has been a dramatic decline in our vaccinations. It’s really very low. The output really went down in February,” he said in Filipino.

According to him, many of those flocking to vaccination sites are children, especially now that some areas, including Metro Manila, are already under Alert Level 1.

“We will be needing more strategies to gather more vaccinees,” he said.

For now, the government’s priority is giving booster doses to adults, enticing those who already had a first dose to return for the second dose, and encouraging senior citizens to get inoculated.

The government’s fourth national vaccination drive aims to inoculate 1.8 million individuals.

So far, the Philippines has 63.6 million fully vaccinated adult individuals, Galvez said. Some 10.5 million of them have already received their booster dose.

The government has also vaccinated 8.5 million minors aged 12 to 17, while over 900,000 children 5 to 11 years old have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Galvez lamented, however, that the number of boosted individuals was still low.

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