VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Galvez claims that PH reaching target vaxx requires context

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Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, claims that the government has achieved its goal of fully vaccinating 70 million Filipinos against the coronavirus disease before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term on June 30. This claim requires context.

Data as of June 1 from the Ministry of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 vaccination dashboard shows that this target has been achieved with 70,147,235 Filipinos completing their main vaccine series, but only after a few adjustments since vaccination in the country began on March 1, 2021. Needs to be note that they met the goal even before it was set.

STATEMENT

In a June 19 press release from the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, Galvez said:

As we promised, we have achieved target no 70 million individuals are fully vaccinated. Be grateful NTF for all of us health workers, volunteersand our compatriots are working together to get more of us vaccinated and protected from COVID-19.

(As we promised, we have reached our target of 70 million fully vaccinated individuals. The NTF is grateful to all of our healthcare workers, volunteers and citizens who are all helping to get more people vaccinated and protected from COVID-19.)

He added:

“This is our parting gift for the next administration. We hope that our new leaders will also prioritize our vaccination program and continue to build walls of immunity among our people.”

Source: Official website of the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, legacy of the Duterte admin: PH vaccinates 70 million Filipinos before change of government, 19 June 2022

FACT

Earlier this year, Galvez told Duterte that his plan was to fully vaccinate 77 million people by the first quarter of 2022 and 90 million before the president resigns. However, the government missed its first-quarter target, with only about 66 million people fully injected by the end of March.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) defines fully vaccinated individuals as those who received a two-dose vaccine series (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Sputnik V) or a single-dose vaccine (Janssen , Sputnik Light).

The country began administering booster injections last November 17 among fully vaccinated individuals for added protection against the new COVID-19 variant. DOH also launched a second booster injection for immunocompromised individuals on April 25, as well as frontline health workers and senior citizens on May 18.

Proposals were made to redefine fully vaccinated individuals as those receiving booster injections, but Deputy Health Minister Maria Rosario Vergeire said this was still being discussed.

Last June 6, Galvez reduced the target for people fully vaccinated to 70 million, a goal that had been achieved five days earlier.

The vaccine czar set a similar target a year earlier, when he said the government planned to vaccinate between 50 and 70 million of the Philippines’ 110 million people within that year.

Two weeks after vaccine rollout began on March 1, 2021, Health Minister Francisco Duque III gave a more optimistic view that this target could be achieved by August or September.

Although the government was able to achieve its initial goal of fully vaccinating 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19, this came only after the target was adjusted at least five times since vaccine rollout began on March 1, 2021. The latest revised target was finally achieved as planned before the end of Duterte’s term. this month.

But by the end of September, only about 24 million Filipinos had received the first dose.

However, Galvez remains optimistic that the 70 million target can be met before 2022, reassuring in a television interview that his goal is achievable.

But with a sudden global vaccine shortage as India grapples with a surge in COVID cases, Galvez said at his May 3, 2021 COVID briefing that they would lower their target for this year to 50 to 60 million people.

He then announced a new vaccination plan focusing on areas of “economic and social importance,” later dubbed “NCR Plus 8,” in reference to the National Capital Territory, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, and six provinces—Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal. In June 2021, the list has added an additional 10 cities.

The focus on these 19 areas is intended to assist economic recovery efforts. The government has finally lowered its vaccination target to only around 50 to 60 percent of the population in these key areas, Deputy Health Minister Myrna Cabotaje said on May 26, 2021.

The new figure must be set at a July 12 Cabinet meeting when Galvez cites a UN report that puts the Philippines’ population at 111 million. This number raises the target of individuals being vaccinated to 77 million to achieve herd immunity by the end of the year, Duterte said in a statement at the September 22 COVID summit.

But the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID is causing a spike in COVID cases. Again, Galvez raised the immunization target to 70 to 80 percent of the population by October 4.

In its November 11 resolution, the IATF mentioned a different target of 54 million, which was only achieved the following year.

When 2021 closes, only 49.73 million Filipinos are fully immunized. Galvez attributed this to shipments and operations hampered by Cyclone Odette (Rai), which hit the country on December 16.

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Editor’s note: This fact check was created with the help of two University of the Philippines Diliman students as part of their internship at VERA Files.

Source

Ministry of Health official website, National Covid-19 Vaccination Dashboard, Accessed June 24, 2022

Official website of the Office of the Presidential Advisor for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, legacy of the Duterte admin: PH vaccinates 70 million Filipinos before change of government June 19, 2022

Presidential Communication Operations Office official website, TALKING TO PRESIDENT ROA DUTERTE PRESIDENT ROA DUTERTE ABOUT CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) (video), 10 January 2022

Ministry of Health official website, Ministry Memorandum No. 2021-0492, 19 November 2022

Ministry of Health’s official YouTube channel, DOH Beat COVID-19 Media Forum 22 April 2022, 22 April 2022

Ministry of Health official website, DOH, NVOC: 2nd COVID-19 BOOSTER NOW AVAILABLE FOR ELDERLY HEALTH WORKERS AND FRONTLINE, 18 May 2022

Philippine Star official website Concepcion presses redefinition completely vaxxed, 29 April 2022

Philippine News Agency official website, Discussions underway to redefine ‘completely confused’: NVOC, 31 March 2022

Inquirer.net’s official website, Leachon urges government: Update regulations on full vaccination definition, April 8, 2022

Ministry of Health official website, IATF Resolution No. 160, March 10, 2022

ABS-CBN News Channel’s official YouTube channel, Headstart | ANC (11 April 2022), 11 April 2022

Official website of the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, NTF pledges to fully vaccinate at least 70 million before the end of the Duterte administration, 6 June 2022

Presidential Communication Operations Office official website, Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH: “Laging Handa: Explanation of the Covid-19 Vaccine” hosted by PCOO Deputy Secretary Rocky Ignacio (video), 6 January 2021

RTV Malacañang, Kumusta Po Mahal Kong Kababayan | COVID-19 Care Gathering and Talk to People about COVID-19, 17 March 2021

Ministry of Health official website, The Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines, 5 January 2021

The official website of the Ministry of Health, DOH, NTF thanks hospitals and vaccines because PH inoculated 756 on the first day of the COVID-19 vaccine launch, March 2, 2021

Official website of the Presidential Communications Office, SPEAKING PRESIDENT ROA DUTERTE PRESIDENT RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE ABOUT CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19), (video) March 16, 2021

Official website of the Presidential Communications Office, PRESIDENT ROA DUTERTE TALKS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19), (video), 3 May 2021

Presidential Communication Operations Office official website, PRESIDENT ROA DUTERTE TALKS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) (video), 12 July 2021

CNN Philippines official YouTube channel Carlito Galvez Jr. l Source, March 18, 2021

World Health Organization official website, Director General’s opening speech at press conference on COVID-19 – 17 May 2021 (video), 17 May 2021

The official website of the Presidential Communication Operations Office, the Palace announces the inclusion of 10 more cities in the vaccination priority, 24 June 2021

Official website of the Presidential Communication Operations Office, Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH hosted by Deputy Secretary of the Presidential Communications Office Rocky Ignacio (video), 26 May 2021

US Department of State official website, Global COVID-19 Summit Participants Statement, September 22, 2021

World Health Organization official website, Minimizing the impact of the Delta variant in the Philippines, 31 August 2021

Presidential Office of Communications Operations official website, Press Briefing Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque (video), October 4, 2021

Official website of the State Gazette, IATF Resolution No. 148-B, 11 November 2021

Official website of the Office of the Presidential Advisor for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, PH violates the fully vaccinated 54 million Filipinos or 70% of the target population amid the Omicron surge, 14 January 2022

PhilStar.com official website, Galvez: ‘Odette’ keeps government from missing year-end vaccination targets, 31 December 2021

Inquirer.net official website, Government blames Odette for not hitting vax target, January 2, 2022

CNN Philippines official website, PH misses its COVID-19 vaccination target, to focus on protecting the elderly, 31 December 2021

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