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The Department of Health (DOH) clarified that it supports the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte on prioritizing NCR plus 8 areas for the COVID-19 vaccination program.

The DOH made the statement to clarify reports saying the agency rejected the prioritization of the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus with regard to the vaccination program.

The government is eyeing the NCR plus 8 areas which have been determined to be the most populous and of highest density, thus putting these at the greatest risk for COVID-19 transmission. Such risks have economic and social implications, which are inherently tied to health and nutrition outcomes.

The DOH further clarified that Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire’s statement was in response to the recommendation to allocate 90 percent of vaccines to the NCR Plus. “This is not only impractical, but is also inappropriate and inequitable. There is a continuous need to allocate to other regions especially to cover the remaining A1, A2, and A3 population groups who have not been vaccinated, consistent with the objective of reducing hospitalizations and deaths among high risk population groups. Aside from this, allocation remains to be dependent on incoming supplies.”

The NCR plus 8 areas are composed of NCR, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal. Based on the latest data, 67 percent of the vaccine supply is distributed to NCR, Regions 4A, III, VII, and XI.

The Philippines registered a daily average of 166,861 doses administered over a 7-day period last May 23, the highest since the start of the COVID-19 vaccination program. During the same period, a total of 3.2 million Filipinos have already been vaccinated with their 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine while around 960,000 have already received their 2nd dose.

The public is continuously reminded to continue practicing the minimum public health standards even after getting fully vaccinated.

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