Philippines aims to vaccinate 9 mln in three days

9 million vaccines in 3 days.

That's the ambitious new campaign launched by the Philippines on Monday (November 29).

Security forces have been deployed and tens of thousands of volunteers are stepping up to help administer the program.

This as the spread of the Omicron variant, described as a "variant of concern," by the WHO has sparked global travel restrictions and rattled financial markets.

The country's President Rodrigo Duterte opened a ceremonial mass vaccination event east of Manila.

"This is our single biggest push to fast-track vaccination and reach the target of 70 per cent population protection nationwide. By the end of 2021, we expect to fully vaccinate a total of 54 million Filipinos."

In San Juan City, Manila residents rolled up their sleeves - some even taking their whole families along to get a shot.

Rosalie Santo Domingo is a medical officer at the vaccination center.

"This is very important since we can continue vaccinating people who have not yet been vaccinated. We have continuous second dose, first dose and boosters available to make sure everyone is vaccinated against COVID."

The mammoth campaign was scaled back from an earlier target of 15 million shots, but would still be a record in a country where vaccine hesitancy remains an obstacle and there are ongoing logistical hurdles.

The Philippines has faced one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia and has been slower than many of its neighbors in its vaccine rollout.

About 35.6 million people have been fully vaccinated, a third of its 110 million population.

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