The government, which started rolling out its anti-COVID inoculation program this week, intends to distribute all 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses to different hospitals across the country within the first week of March.
The country began rolling out its vaccination program on Monday using shots from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, which arrived the day before.
The 11 hospitals where the vaccines were deployed so far were able to inoculate 2,793 as of Tuesday evening, said vaccine baron Carlito Galvez Jr.
“Our target for the end of the week is to deploy almost 600,000. Our target for this week is to dispatch, distribute all doses to the different regions,” Galvez said.
He said the initial demand allocation set was for 202,182 individuals in Luzon, 51,140 for Visayas, and 94,540 for Mindanao. Each person is supposed to receive 2 doses.
Those in excess of 600,000 would be filled in by the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives, he said.
Galvez was among the first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Philippine General Hospital on Monday. He said he did not experience any side effects and the pain on his shoulder was gone.
But he admitted 12 individuals who received the vaccine experienced “very minor adverse effects” and 154 others were “deferred” after a medical screening.
The Philippines has logged 580,442 total coronavirus infections as of Tuesday, after six straight days of more than 2,000 new cases.
The appearingly easy rollout despite, there are still some, speaking on condition they would not be identified, who are understandably reluctant to get the coronavirus vaccines until more people have had them.
The vaccine hesitancy can be normal, but waiting too long to be vaccinated, some health experts say, allows the coronavirus to continue spreading in the community, with new variants emerging.
Severe COVID-19 can be very dangerous, according to these same experts who suggest the sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you are protected. Stated differently, time is essential.
Others say that by themselves, the COVID-19 vaccines cannot shorten the pandemic. They can only work when communities agree to receive them. And, even if you are vaccinated, you should continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and practice physically distancing until the pandemic is over.
The country’s largest coalition of health groups and front-liners has urged the public not to prejudge China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, which they fear may affect the country’s vaccine rollout against the disease.
“There’s something called Sinophobia, that it’s made in China. Therefore, it’s part of the vaccine diplomacy, they have many to gain from the country,” Dr. Antonio Dans, convenor of Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19, said in an interview on ANC.
The Chinese-made anti-coronavirus shots, known as CoronaVac, are undergoing evaluation by the Health Technology Assessment Council, and results are expected to be released in a few days, Dans said.
The HTAC, an independent advisory body under the Department of Health, undertakes technology appraisals by determining their clinical and economic values in the country’s health-care system.
Ethical, legal, social, and health system implications are also considered in the assessments.
At the same time, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government is urging the public to consider getting vaccinated to protect them from getting the virus that could lead to various illnesses and even death as soon as they are given the opportunity.
We heard Roque say the vaccines are safe, adding the government is very transparent when it comes to the process of vaccination programs.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged the public to participate in the national vaccination program of the government instead of being afraid of the vaccine.
“Please set your fears aside. The vaccines are backed by Science and deliberated (on) by Filipino experts,” the President said.
We note, the hesitancy staring us in the eye, that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has said the confidence of health care workers in the inoculation program against COVID-19 has improved.
“As of March 1, we have 791 health care workers inoculated. As of March 2, we have a total of 2,002. So, that’s almost three times,” Duque said in a press conference.
“This is a reflection of the health care workers’ growing confidence and trust in the vaccination program,” he added.
Duque said they were expecting more medical front-liners — who are first on the priority list, to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.
Currently, only Sinovac vaccines are available in the country.
After the medical front-liners serving in the city government of Manila have been vaccinated, Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso said those in private hospitals and clinics would be next in line in the free mass inoculation being administered by the local government.
“Next will be the doctors and nurses and other medical front-liners in private clinics and hospitals in the city,” Domagoso said.
Domagoso also announced the bad news that there was an alarming rate of increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city as he reiterated calls for everyone to continue practicing self-discipline when it came to basic health protocols against getting the infection.
In his live broadcast, Domagoso noted that as of noon of March 2, the city registered 61 new COVID cases and that from the 300 average active cases for the past four months, the number rose to 575 currently. (AI/MTVN)