President Rodrigo Roa Duterte listens as Senator Christopher Lawrence Go shares his remarks during the meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on March 15, 2021. TOTO LOZANO/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday suggested using all available AstraZeneca vaccine doses as initial jabs to provide “partial protection” to more health workers.

Duque said AstraZeneca vaccines are administered in two doses between a three-month interval.

Because the country is expecting more AstraZeneca doses to arrive from March to April, Duque said the 525,000 available doses could be used to inoculate more health workers.

“Pwede ho nating gamitin na ‘yong lahat ng 525,000 AstraZeneca vaccines as first dose. So we give more. We provide partial protection to a lot more healthcare workers,” Duque told President Rodrigo Duterte in a meeting broadcast Monday night

Galvez said the World Health Organization, through its representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, had recommended distributing all available doses to expedite the vaccination drive.

“So ang recommendation ko po ay I support the recommendation of Secretary Duque na mas maganda po na maibigay po natin AstraZeneca dahil mayroon po tayong laktaw na more or less three months po,” he said.

Duterte said he was concerned about distributing all on-hand vaccines as the next shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines may not arrive on time.

“The problem is sabihin mo the second dose would come from the future deliveries, okay ‘yan. Ang problema, ang next problem is baka hindi dumating,” he said.

Meanwhile, for the Sinovac vaccines, Duque said the available vaccines would be allotted as second doses since the vaccine requires only a 28-day interval between the first and second jabs. John Ezekiel J. Hirro