BALANGA CITY, Bataan – The government targets to inoculate about half of the country’s total population against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) this year, Secretary Vivencio Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, said on Monday.
Dizon came here to witness the first inoculation with Sinovac vaccines of top officials of the Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) led by its director, Dr. Ria Baltazar.
“Mga 50 million people ang target natin this year na mabakunahan (Our target is around 50 million people to be vaccinated this year),” he said in his speech, as he noted the rise in Covid-19 cases in some parts of the country and what government is doing to curb further spread of the virus.
“Tuluy-tuloy lang ang ating mga interventions, preventions, pagte-testing, tracing, isolation at pagti-treat pero kasabay niyan ngayon mayroon tayong dagdag na proteksyon, yong pagbabakuna natin (Our interventions, preventions, testing, tracing, isolation and treatment are continuous but, at the same time, we now have extra protection, our vaccinations,” Dizon said.
Cases of other variants of the virus are rising in Metro Manila so there is a need to strengthen the intervention, he noted.
He reminded the public to continue observing the minimum health standards such as the washing of hands, wearing of face masks and physical distancing.
“Kailangan mas mabilis ma-roll out ang mga bakuna natin lalo na sa mga health care workers para kapag naospital ang mga positive sa Covid-19 ay protektado sila (We need to roll out our vaccines faster, especially for health care workers so that when those who tested positive for Covid-19 are hospitalized, they are protected),” Dizon added.
He could not give the exact number of those already vaccinated, saying the Department of Health (DOH) will provide the update.
Dizon also said more vaccines against Covid-19 will be arriving in the country in the next few weeks and months.
He said that as more vaccines arrive, Bataan should be given priority in inoculation, being a major industrial and marine travel site “para masiguro na tuluy-tuloy ang pag-andar ng ekonomiya (to ensure the continuous operation of our economy).”
Dizon also gave tribute to health care workers, adding that the supply of AstraZeneca vaccines should be reserved for the elderly in the sector.
“Kayo ang frontliner, kayo ang ating mga bayani at nararapat lamang na kayo ang unang-unang tatanggap ng bakuna kaya maraming-maraming salamat sa inyong sakripisyo at ito ay galing sa ating mahal ng Pangulo na lahat nang dumating regardless sa kung anong brand yan, lahat ng unang darating na bakuna sa Pilipinas ay para sa inyo (You are the front-liners, you are our heroes and you deserve to be the first to receive the vaccine. So, thank you very much for your sacrifices and these came from our dear President regardless of what brand it is. All the vaccines that are first to arrive are all for you),” he said.
Dizon asked DOH-Region 3 (Central Luzon) director Cesar Cassion to reserve the AstraZeneca vaccines for health workers in Bataan.
He also described the present mood of health workers amid the start of vaccination as different from last year’s when the deadly virus started to adversely affect the country.
“Ngayong araw na ito ay iba na ang nakikita sa mga health workers. Nakangiti na sila at kitang-kita na imbes mukha ng takot ay mukha na ng pag-asa ang makikita sa mga mukha nila. Kaya napakalaki ng simbolo na sila ang unang-unang babakunahan ng mga unang bakuna na dumating nitong nakaraang mga araw (Today, what we are seeing is different with the health workers. They are already smiling and it is obvious that instead of a face of fear, a face of hope could be seen. So, it is a huge symbol that they are the first to be inoculated with the vaccines that came out in recent days,” Dizon said.
He noted that he was inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, which had no adverse effect on him. He said the vaccine from China is safe and urged everyone to take it.
Dizon, together with Bataan Governor Albert Garcia, Rep. Jose Enrique Garcia III and Mayors Francis Garcia of Balanga City and Gila Garcia of Dinalupihan also inspected the Bataan People’s Center that will serve as the province’s mass vaccination center. (PNA)