From November 29 to December 1, 2021, the Philippines vaccinated 7.6 million people in three days. This was part of a mass vaccination campaign called “Bayanihan, Bakunahan.” The intense Philippines vaccination drive exceeded expectations by about 200,000 vaccines. A second wave of the “Bayanihan Bakunahan” campaign ran later in December.

According to Our World in Data, the Philippines lags behind the global average for the vaccinated population. However, the Philippines vaccination drive shows a stark improvement from the beginning of the year.  At that time, vaccines were scarcely available. The government hopes to have 77 million fully vaccinated. Filipinos by the end of the first quarter of 2022. Here are some facts about the Philippine’s mass vaccination program.

The Philippine’s Mass Vaccination Program

  1. COVID-19 Vaccines: The Philippines has approved eight COVID-19 vaccines for usage. The vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Vaccines from other countries include China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm, Russia’s Sputnik V, the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca and India’s Bharat BioTech. The vaccines range in efficacy from 51% to 95%, but the Philippine government encourages vaccination by any brand despite variance in efficacy. The vaccine variety helps ensure there is vaccine availability in the case of delayed shipments or shortages. The Philippine government purchased most of these doses from their respective producers. It also received more than 53 million doses through the COVAX initiative.
  2. Vaccine Access: There was easy access to vaccination due to 8,000 vaccination centers being open across the Philippines. Even during Typhoon Odette, which hit during the Philippines vaccination drive, the Department of Health vaccinated millions of people. To hit the government target of fully vaccinating 77 million Filipinos by the end of March 2022,  local vaccination centers have extended their hours to remain open on weekends.
  3. Vaccine Hesitancy: Vaccine hesitancy has been decreasing in the Philippines. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Filipinos have been concerned about the safety of the vaccine due to a controversy over the government rollout of a dengue vaccine in 2017. With time, seeing that adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are very rare, people are becoming willing to get vaccinated.

Lagging Vaccination During Philippines Vaccination Drive

Vaccination rates in the Philippines still lag behind the rest of the world. The pandemic pushed millions of Filipinos into poverty. The Philippines Statistics Authority reported 3.9 million more people living in poverty since 2018. Some blame the pandemic lockdowns. These reduced economic demands and therefore jobs. However, as a result of the Philippines vaccination drive, cases have been dropping so the government has been able to ease restrictions. While the Omicron variant may disrupt this progress, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has encouraged vaccination as the best protection against illness and death from COVID-19.

Expanding Vaccination Access

One next step for the Philippines is to expand vaccination across all population groups.  Another step is to begin providing booster shots to the fully vaccinated. On December 22, the Philippines approved the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate children aged 5-11. The government also recently shortened the interval between the second and third doses, which will allow people to receive a booster dose after three months.

The Philippines vaccination drive has increased interest in vaccination. This interest has kept many temporary vaccination sites opened during the drive stay open. With President Duterte’s adamant pleas for Filipinos to get vaccinated, similar vaccination drives will likely take place again and inch the country closer to herd immunity.

– Emma Tkacz
Photo: Flickr


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, global calls for achieving COVID-19 vaccine equity are increasing. Vaccine equity is a simple concept: it is the belief that all people should have equal access to vaccines. Inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines leaves developing nations helpless against the virus. Moreover, inequitable access has allowed new deadlier variants of the virus to emerge and spread globally.

According to the World Bank Group, as of November 15, 2021, 72.8% of the population in high-income countries received a COVID-19 vaccine. This is a harsh difference from the mere 4.2% of the population in low-income countries. Luckily, several global organizations have initiated various efforts to help make COVID-19 vaccine equity a reality.

The World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a leader in global health initiatives. Its COVID-19 vaccine equity campaign is a roadmap to achieve vaccine equity. This roadmap sets the goal to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to at least 40% of the residents in every country by the end of 2021. It sets a second goal to vaccinate 70% of the global population by mid-2022. WHO is calling for countries and companies that control vaccine supplies to donate and contract with COVAX and The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to get the vaccines where they are most needed.

WHO also believes that individual efforts matter. It launched its GoGiveOne fundraising initiative to allow individual efforts to directly aid the vaccine equity campaign through crowdfunding. A donation of $6 amounts to one vaccine.

Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity

The Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity is a collaborative effort that the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the University of Oxford launched with support across the U.N. It is a part of the SDG 3 Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All.

This initiative works towards global COVID-19 vaccine equity by sharing the latest data on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. It also provides socioeconomic data to demonstrate why the acceleration of global vaccination is critical. The Dashboard shows how a faster rollout not only saves more lives but also supports a speedier pandemic recovery. Moreover, it presents and highlights important vaccine equity policies and uses these to help guide legislative change. Finally, the Dashboard aids in educating the public about COVID-19 vaccine equity through free resources and statistics.

Only organizations can directly participate in the Dashboard. Nevertheless, individuals have a significant part to play. Raising awareness and increasing knowledge about COVID-19 vaccine equity is the Dashboard’s primary goal.

African Vaccine Acquisition Trust

The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) is a global effort that strives for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the African continent. To combat the looming vaccine inequality, in August 2020, a group of 10 people from throughout Africa gathered and became the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. This team went on to found the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust and gain the endorsement of the African Union. Moreover, AVAT became an integral part of the Africa Vaccine Strategy. AVAT’s primary goal is ensuring the vaccination of at least 60% of the African population against COVID-19. Individuals can help through advocating for increased COVID-19 vaccine donations from their governments and through educating themselves about COVID-19 vaccine equity in Africa.

Realizing COVID-19 Vaccine Equity

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the world, vaccine equity should remain at the forefront of global efforts. Many developed countries are increasingly pledging to donate COVID-19 vaccines due to pressure from the global initiatives mentioned above. Therefore, it remains important for individuals to support the global COVID-19 vaccine equity initiatives to help make vaccine equity a reality.

– Nohad Awada
Photo: Unsplash