Over 30,000 personnel will be needed in the government’s rollout of mass vaccinations against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

If the initial rollout of the vaccination program will have to vaccinate over 24 million Filipinos, “we will need about 35,240 vaccinators and an additional 176,200 personnel,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said at a senate inquiry on Friday. 

“We have 4,504 vaccination sites with three vaccination teams per site and 100 people can be vaccinated per team,” he said.

In terms of how long the program would be, he said it would depend on the vaccines available. If the vaccines are from Pfizer Inc., it will take 25 days if the vaccination program is done simultaneously. For non-Pfizer vaccines, it will take 45 days.

A master list for the human resource requirement is also being finalized. Personal protective equipment and peripherals are also being prepared for the vaccination program.

The government plans to vaccinate around 60% to 70% of the population in the next three years in order to reach “herd immunity” against the COVID-19. 

According to vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. at the same senate hearing, the Pfizer vaccine might be the first COVID-19 vaccine to reach Philippine shores, with agreements scheduled to be finalized as early as next week.

Senator Richard J. Gordon said at the same hearing that he plans to file a bill to allow the training on how to use vaccines so more manpower can be added to boost the vaccination coverage of the government. “Even without a  medical background… we can train millions and millions of vaccinators,” he said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, vaccine storage and facility preparations are underway as the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines might arrive in the first quarter of the year, the health secretary said.

Mr. Duque said in Filipino, “Four companies have already confirmed they have storage that can accommodate the vaccines.”

He did not say which four companies confirmed, but he mentioned that among the companies they approached were ORCA Cold Chain Solution, Zuellig Pharma Corp., Royal Cargo Inc., LBC, and other storage and logistic companies.

Meanwhile, Mr. Galvez said that they will start inspecting facilities for vaccines in Metro Manila next week. Vaccination simulations will also be conducted in Pasig around the same time. Gillian M. Cortez