The Philippines distributed 80.85 percent of the country’s first 1.525 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in the first quarter of the year, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Monday.

A total of 1,233,500 doses have been used as of March 29, enough for the vaccination of 668,018 healthcare workers.

The 1 million doses of government-purchased Sinovac vaccines, which arrived on Monday, had yet to be deployed, said Galvez.

The government had expected 5.1 million doses to arrive in the first quarter of 2021.

Doses from other manufacturers, including Russia’s Gamaleya, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were expected to arrive later this year.

Galvez said the country’s vaccine officials were expecting to inoculate 500,000 to 1 million individuals weekly in April; 2 to 3 million weekly in June and July and 3 to 5 million weekly from August until December.

“Ang pinakatarget po natin is we will have a better Christmas sa 2021. And then ang ano po natin ang pinaka talagang target natin is the complete elimination of Covid-19 disease,” Galvez said.

‘Bilisan niyo na’

President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted the vaccination of health workers expedited so individuals listed under lower vaccine priority brackets could start receiving anti-Covid-19 shots.

“Kasi ganito ‘yan e, ‘yong mga health workers lahat, ‘yong sa priority A1, kailangan bilisan niyo na ‘yong mga ano sila, they must go now, they must look for a way to have the vaccines ahead of time. Kung ngayon na, huwag na nilang tagalan because ang nagahintay ‘yong sunod, itong senior citizens,” he said.

A1 refers to frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors and barangay health workers. The A2 bracket includes senior citizens aged 60 years old and above.

Galvez said the government was aiming to start inoculating senior citizens by March 31.

The country has recorded 741,181 cases of Covid-19 as of March 30. John Ezekiel J. Hirro