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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Galvez claim that PH hit vaxx target needs context

Data from the Department of Health COVID-19 vaccination dashboard shows that this target had been achieved with 70,147,235 Filipinos completing their primary vaccine series, but only after several adjustments since vaccination in the country began on March 1, 2021.

Jul 1, 2022

VERA Files

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Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, claimed that the government had 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 needs context.

Data as of June 1 from the Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 vaccination dashboard shows that this target had been achieved with 70,147,235 Filipinos completing their primary vaccine series, but only after several adjustments since vaccination in the country began on March 1, 2021. It is worth noting they met the goal before it was even set.

STATEMENT

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

Tulad ng aming ipinangako, naabot na natin ang target na 70 million fully vaccinated individuals. Nagpapasalamat ang NTF sa lahat ng ating health workers, volunteers, at mga kababayang nagtulong-tulong para mas marami tayong mabakunahan at maprotektahan laban sa COVID-19.

 

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

He added:

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

 

Source:  Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity official website, Duterte admin’s legacy: PH fully vaccinates 70M Filipinos before turnover of administration, June 19, 2022

 

FACT

At the start of this year, Galvez told Duterte the plan was to fully vaccinate 77 million people in the first quarter of 2022 and 90 million before the president stepped down. However, the government missed its first quarter target, with only about 66 million people fully inoculated by the end of March.

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

The country began administering booster shots last Nov. 17 among fully vaccinated individuals for added protection against new COVID-19 variants. The DOH also rolled out second booster shots 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 who received booster jabs, but Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said this is still being discussed.

Last June 6, Galvez reduced the target for fully vaccinated persons to 70 million, a goal it had already achieved five days earlier.

The vaccine czar set a similar target a year prior, when he said the government planned to vaccinate between 50 to 70 million of the 110 million Filipinos within that year.

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

Although the government was able to achieve its original goal of fully vaccinating 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19, this happened only after the targets were adjusted at least five times since the rollout of vaccines began on March 1, 2021. The most recent 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.

Still, Galvez remained optimistic that the 70-million target could be met before 2022, assuring in a televised interview that the goal was attainable.

But with a sudden global shortage in vaccines as India grappled with a surge of COVID cases, Galvez said in a May 3, 2021 COVID briefing they would scale down the target for the year to 50 to 60 million people.

He then announced a new vaccination plan that focused on areas with “economic and social importance,” later dubbed as “NCR Plus 8,” referring to the National Capital Region, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, and six provinces — Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal. In June 2021, the list increased by an additional 10 cities.

Focusing on these 19 areas was meant to help economic recovery efforts. The government eventually lowered its vaccination target to only around 50 to 60 percent of the population in these key areas, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said on May 26, 2021.

A new figure had to be set in a July 12 Cabinet meeting as Galvez cited a United Nations report pegging the Philippine population at 111 million. This number raised the target of vaccinated individuals to 77 million to achieve herd immunity by year end, as Duterte mentioned in a statement at a Sept. 22 COVID summit.

But the highly transmissible COVID Delta variant caused a spike in COVID cases. Once again, Galvez raised the immunization goal to 70 to 80 percent of the population on Oct. 4.

In a Nov. 11 resolution, the IATF mentioned a different target of 54 million, which it only achieved the following year.

As 2021 closed, only 49.73 million Filipinos were fully immunized. Galvez attributed this to hampered deliveries and operations due to Typhoon Odette (Rai), which hit the country on Dec. 16.

 

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form.

 

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

 

Sources

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

Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity official website, Duterte admin’s legacy: PH fully vaccinates 70M Filipinos before turnover of administration June 19, 2022

Presidential Communications Operations Office official website, TALK TO THE PEOPLE OF PRESIDENT RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE ON CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) (video), Jan. 10, 2022

Department of Health official website, Department Memorandum No. 2021-0492, Nov. 19, 2022

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

Department of Health official website, DOH, NVOC: 2ND COVID-19 BOOSTER NOW AVAILABLE FOR SENIORS AND FRONTLINE HEALTH WORKERS, May 18, 2022

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

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

Inquirer.net official website, Leachon urges gov’t: Do a regulatory update on definition of full vaccination, April 8, 2022

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

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

Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity official website, NTF vows to fully vaccinate at least 70M before the end of Duterte administration, June 6, 2022

Presidential Communications Operations Office official website, Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH: “Laging Handa: Covid-19 Vaccines Explained” hosted by PCOO Undersecretary Rocky Ignacio (video), Jan. 6, 2021

RTV Malacañang, Kumusta Po Mahal Kong Kababayan | Meeting on COVID-19 Concerns and Talk to the People on COVID-19, March 17, 2021

Department of Health official website, The Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines, Jan. 5, 2021

Department of Health official website, DOH, NTF grateful to hospitals and vaccinees as PH inoculates 756 on first day of COVID-19 vaccine rollout, March 2, 2021

Presidential Communications Operations Office official website, TALK TO THE PEOPLE OF PRESIDENT RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE ON CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19), (video)  March 16, 2021

Presidential Communications Operations Office official website, TALK TO THE PEOPLE OF PRESIDENT RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE ON CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19), (video), May 3, 2021

Presidential Communications Operations Office official website, TALK TO THE PEOPLE OF PRESIDENT RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE ON CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) (video), July 12, 2021

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

World Health Organization official website, Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 17 May 2021 (video), May 17, 2021

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

Presidential Communications Operations Office official website, Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH hosted by Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Rocky Ignacio (video), May 26, 2021

U.S. Department of State official website, Global COVID-19 Summit Participant Statements, Sept. 22, 2021

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

Presidential Communications Operations Office official website, Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (video), Oct. 4, 2021

Official Gazette official website, IATF Resolution No. 148-B, Nov. 11, 2021

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation and Unity official website, PH breaches 54M fully vaccinated Filipinos or 70% of target population amidst Omicron surge, Jan. 14, 2022

PhilStar.com official website, Galvez: ‘Odette’ made gov’t miss yearend vaccination target, Dec. 31, 2021

Inquirer.net official website, Gov’t blames Odette for missing vax target, Jan. 2, 2022

CNN Philippines official website, PH misses COVID-19 vaccination target, to focus on protecting senior citizens, Dec. 31, 2021

 

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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