Road to Herd Immunity–Inoculation Update in the Philippines


Two years after the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the Philippines, the country now is slowly making its way in recovering as most parts of the country have fully reopened, being placed under Alert Level 1 or the loosest measure that allows businesses and transportation in full operation (check this article from BRIA Homes for more information: What you need to know under alert level 1?). The country is definitely embracing now the so-called, “new normal,” where millions of Filipinos appear ready to move forward with the pandemic. Furthermore, now that vaccinations are in full swing in the country, the question now is where are we in terms of achieving herd immunity, or what is now the Philippines’ vaccination rate? According to the vaccination dashboard of the DOH, as of March 21, 2022, the total doses administered were already around  147.2 million. Meanwhile, around 65.2 million people were already fully vaccinated, or those who already received two doses of vaccine, from the COVID-19 virus in the country. On the other hand, roughly 70.4 million people were still waiting for their second dose of the vaccine. Concurrently, about 11.6 million people already received a booster shot. That being said, 65.2 million people are fully vaccinated, or 59.5% of the total population. Moreover, the government’s target by June 30, 2022, or three months from now,  is to inoculate a total of 90 million people, or 80% of the total population in order to achieve herd immunity in the Philippines. The 2022 national census revealed that there are now 112.5 million Filipinos, and 80% of that is 90 million.

To refresh the mind, let’s begin to define the term herd immunity and discuss how will the country achieve it. Herd immunity according to The World Health Organization (WHO), occurs when the majority of the population is immune either through inoculation against the virus and can no longer be carriers or immunity or antibodies developed through the previous infection of the virus, it serves as indirect protection from a highly-contagious disease like  COVID-19. It happens when enough number of the population is immune enough to an infectious disease that they can no longer become carriers of the disease and spread it to other people. In short,  herd immunity ensures that a highly-contagious disease like the COVID-19 virus can no longer spread and infect other people because it has nowhere else to go, being said above that the majority of the population will become immune once herd immunity is achieved. However, the WHO pointed out that obtaining herd immunity through mass vaccinations is the only reasonable way to go beyond this pandemic. Additionally, the WHO did not designate a specific number that will signify that herd immunity has been obtained because the figures will vary according to the country’s population, the vaccine rollout or efficacy of a vaccine brand, the prioritized groups of the population for vaccination, and other such factors.

Nevertheless, in 2021, the country set a goal of vaccinating 70% of the current Philippine population, in which they used the  2020 national census as a basis for the population of 109 million before, and at that time 70% of that is 76 million. But to reiterate, their target now is to inoculate 90 million people, or 80% of the population by June 30, 2022, based on the continuous ramped-up vaccination effort by the LGUs to achieve herd immunity in the Philippines. But of course, still, their estimate is subject to change depending on the circumstances, similar to a concept from economics called “ceteris paribus” – or “all things held constant.” For instance, due to the rampage of the much more contagious delta and omicron variant of COVID-19 around the world, one of the US-based hospital review said that it has been estimated that the herd immunity threshold is now at 80%. That’s why the target of the country now this 2022 is to inoculate 90 million Filipinos. Here’s another thing: the duration of protection being offered by the COVID-19 vaccine will depend on the brand. For instance, if a person received a vaccine with a low efficacy rate like Sinovac, the antibodies from that vaccine will fade after just six months, meaning the protection it provided will be already waned off by midyear! Consequently, there’s already a need to have a booster shot.

On the good side, as early as December of last year, 23 highly urbanized cities in the country have already fully vaccinated 70% or more of their target population, meaning they have already achieved herd immunity as early as December 2021. But a good development is that as of today, the country is considered in a low-risk category all attributed to the continuous vaccinations and relentless efforts of everyone to follow the essential public health standards set by the national government. The cities that achieved herd immunity are:

  1. San Juan City
  2. Mandaluyong City
  3. Pateros City
  4. Marikina City
  5. Taguig City
  6. Pasay City
  7. Las Piñas City
  8. Parañaque City
  9. Manila City
  10. Muntinlupa City
  11. Makati City
  12. Valenzuela City
  13. Quezon City
  14. Navotas City
  15. Pasig City
  16. Malabon City
  17. Caloocan City
  18. Baguio City
  19. Angeles City
  20. Iloilo City
  21. Lapu-Lapu City
  22. Mandaue City
  23. Davao City

Bayanihan, Bakunahan: National Vaccination Days Philippines

Although more than 50% of the population have already received their two doses of the vaccine, still realistically speaking, the country is still not there to achieve its goal of “herd immunity in the Philippines” and is far from having the country free from the Covid-19 virus. That being said, the President of the Philippines, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 1253, pronouncing the dates November 29 – December 1, 2021, as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan, National Vaccination Days,” in the Philippines which encourages more people to get inoculated and be protected from the threat of the Covid-19 virus. And this initiative has been successful that resulted in its fourth “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” which was only held recently from March 10-12, 2022, that targeted the inoculation of COVID-19 vaccines to more senior citizens or the Priority Group A2, the second most vulnerable group in the population, as well as the remaining minors, ages 12 to 17 years old of the population, individuals who missed their doses and yet to have their second dose, and lastly to provide booster doses in different sectors. However, in the third installment of Bayanihan, Bakunahan, the target fell short of its goal of vaccinating five million people, with only around 3.4 million inoculated throughout the nine-day drive. The national vaccination days also provide that all private employees and workers will be considered as not absent from their respective jobs if they will have their jab on the scheduled national vaccination days and provided that they will present proof of their vaccination to their employers.

Alert Level 1

The COVID-19 restrictions have finally been downgraded to the loosest level on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. This means that the conditions set by the Pandemic task force officials have been followed. The first condition is that the Local Governments must ensure that at least 80 percent of senior citizens in their population should have been fully vaccinated and second, that 70 percent of the eligible population in their communities should also have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order for them to shift to the loosest level, Alert Level 1. The ease of quarantine restrictions was decided due to the fact that COVID-19 infections in the Philippines have continued to decline, with nationwide case numbers staying below the 2,000 range in the past weeks. The relaxation of restrictions should have been done last December 2021 but was forced to postpone it due to the threat of the highly contagious Omicron variant that created a high-record surge in infections.

Under Alert Level 1, all establishments and public transportation are allowed to operate at full capacity with only minimum health standards to follow such as wearing face masks, which is still a must.  But there are still some mobility restrictions to stay for people from different age groups, though this is now subject to specific guidelines of each Local Government Unit (LGU). Government officials say that this is the start of moving way forward with the pandemic.

At least 38 cities and municipalities have been allowed to downgrade into Alert Level 1 beginning March 1 along with Metro Manila,:

Cordillera Administrative Region

  • Abra
  • Apayao
  • Baguio City
  • Kalinga

Ilocos Region

  • Dagupan City
  • Ilocos Norte
  • Ilocos Sur
  • La Union
  • Pangasinan

Cagayan Valley

  • Batanes
  • Cagayan
  • Santiago City
  • Isabela
  • Quirino

Central Luzon

  • Angeles City
  • Aurora
  • Bataan
  • Bulacan
  • Olongapo City
  • Pampanga
  • Tarlac


  • Cavite
  • Laguna


  • Marinduque
  • Puerto Princesa City
  • Romblon


  • Naga City
  • Catanduanes

Western Visayas

  • Aklan
  • Bacolod City
  • Capiz
  • Guimaras

Central Visayas

  • Siquijor

Eastern Visayas

  • Biliran

Zamboanga Peninsula

  • Zamboanga City

Northern Mindanao

  • Cagayan de Oro City
  • Camiguin

Davao Region

  • Davao City

Furthermore, health experts opined that the two conditions mentioned above were are not enough to protect the health systems against the threat of future surges. There should also be a speedy inoculation of booster shots for those who have already received their two doses of vaccine to have more protection against the Omicron. Nevertheless, here are the more detailed and scrutinized conditions that need to be met by any area in order for them to be downgraded to Alert Level 1:

  1. At least 70% of their target population must be  fully inoculated against COVID-19;
  2. At least 80% out of 85% of their senior citizens must already receive two doses of the vaccine;
  3. Has low to inconsequential risk case classification;
  4. The total bed occupancy in hospitals must be less than 50%.

Last Tuesday, March 15, it was announced by the government that Metro Manila is to remain under Alert Level 1 from March 16 to March 31. More and more cities and municipalities have been placed under the laxest level of restrictions two years since the first lockdown was imposed in the country due to the COVID-19 virus. There are now a total of 48 areas placed under Alert Level 1 and the other areas not mentioned below are to remain under Alert Level 2 during the same period. until further notice.

The total 48 areas under Alert level 1 from March 16 to March 31  are:

  1. Metro Manila
  2. Cordillera Administrative Region
  3. Abra
  4. Apayao
  5. Baguio City
  6. Kalinga
  1. Region I
  2. Dagupan City
  3. Ilocos Norte
  4. Ilocos Sur
  5. La Union
  6. Pangasinan
  1. Region II
  2. Batanes
  3. Cagayan
  4. City of Santiago
  5. Isabela
  6. Quirino
  1. Region III
  2. Angeles City
  3. Aurora
  4. Bataan
  5. Bulacan
  6. Nueva Ecija
  7. Olongapo City
  8. Pampanga
  9. Tarlac
  10. Zambales
  1. Region IV-A
  2. Batangas
  3. Cavite
  4. Laguna
  5. Lucena City
  1. Region IV-B
  2. Marinduque
  3. Puerto Princesa City
  4. Romblon
  1. Region V
  2. Naga City
  3. Catanduanes
  1. Region VI
  2. Aklan
  3. Bacolod City
  4. Capiz
  5. Guimaras
  6. Iloilo City
  1. Region VII
  2. Cebu City
  3. Siquijor
  1. Region VIII
  2. Biliran
  3. Ormoc City
  4. Tacloban City
  1. Region IX
  2. Zamboanga City
  1. Region X
  2. Cagayan de Oro City
  3. Camiguin
  1. Region XI
  2. Davao City
  2. Butuan City

Meanwhile, the inoculation of minors ages 12-to 17 have already started last year in October 2021 to combat the coronavirus, and with the hopes that through this vaccination, the students could come back to the schools safely once it reopens. The country is focusing on the 1.2 million children that have lived with existing health conditions and health experts have approved at least two vaccine brands for minors. Moreover, the Department of Health (DOH), has reassured the parents of the minors as well as the public that 99% of the inoculated individuals ages 12 to 17 did not experience any post-vaccination symptoms.

After the age group of minors from 12-17, the age group of children aged 5 to 11 has been targeted next to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The vaccination drive for these children has already started last February. And the only allowed vaccine that is to be administered to them is the Pfizer vaccine, as it is the only vaccine brand that has been approved by the authorities for emergency use for kids aged 5 to 11 years. This vaccine has been curated to suit the capability of these children with only a lower dosage and lower concentrations to be inoculated. Here are the things that you need to know about vaccines that are available in the country– FAQs: Covid-19 Vaccines available in the Philippines.

The government seeks to inoculate at least 15.5 million children aged 5 to 11 in the country. It was reported that 69.2% of the COVID-19 cases last January 2022, during the record-breaking surge of Omicron variant in the country, have among the pediatric group or those minors ages  17 years old and below. Every individual must receive their vaccine in order to be protected against the deadly COVID-19 virus, even minors. Read this article to convince you to have your minor children be vaccinated– Why should teens get COVID-19 Vaccines?