The government intends to distribute all 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses to different hospitals across the country within the first week of March, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Wednesday.
The country began rolling out its vaccination program on Monday using shots from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, which arrived on Sunday.
The 11 hospitals where the vaccines were deployed so far were able to inoculate 2,793 as of Tuesday evening, said Galvez.
“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.
However, he said 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 6 straight days of more than 2,000 new cases.
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.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the remarks due to a recent survey that many Filipinos were not inclined to get a COVID-19 vaccine due to safety concerns.
However, Roque said the vaccines were safe, adding the government was very transparent when it came 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 by Filipino experts,” the President said.
The confidence of health care workers in the inoculation program against COVID-19 has improved, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Wednesday.
“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 frontliners -- 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 frontliners serving in the city government of Manila have been vaccinated, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” 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 frontliners in private clinics and hospitals in the city,” Domagoso said.
As this developed, Domagoso 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 repeated 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.
The Philippine General Hospital has asked the Department of Health for additional supply of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines, as they expected the number of employees intending to be vaccinated to increase, a hospital official said Wednesday.
“We asked for more. We initially asked for 1,200. Our goal is to have as many employees vaccinated as we can so we estimate the number to reach 2,000,” said PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi.
Legaspi, in an interview on TeleRadyo on Wednesday, said the DOH acted immediately and delivered the additional supply.
Legaspi shared that they had a good experience with their vaccination program as many people showed up to be vaccinated.
“Maybe it was because they saw that leading the event were doctors who believe in the importance of getting vaccinated with any brand of COVID-19 vaccine that is available, as long as we get vaccinated,” he said.
The country’s largest coalition of health groups and frontliners on Wednesday 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, is 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, undertake technology appraisals by determining their clinical and economic values in the the country’s health-care system.
Ethical, legal, social and health system implications are also considered in the assessments.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Wednesday witnessed the vaccine rollout at the city-run QC General Hospital where health-care workers were inoculated with their first dose of the CoronaVac vaccines.
Last Tuesday, the hospital received an initial 300 doses of the CoronaVac vaccines from the national government through the Department of Health.
These were given to 300 health-care workers who signed up for the program.
Only health-care workers aged 18-59 and in good health condition were inoculated by the hospital’s doctors.
“This is a milestone in our coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response. We have begun the vaccination process starting with our health workers whose lives have been constantly at risk since the pandemic began last year,” Belmonte said.
Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has directed generation companies including government-owned and controlled corporations and private sector-operated and owned generation facilities to ensure stable power supply during the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.
In an advisory dated March 2, Cusi said generation firms should ensure availability of generating facilities at the maximum dependable capacity and comply with the grid operating and maintenance program for 2021.
The energy chief also said the gencos should secure adequate fuel and maintain reasonable fuel inventories , arrange for back up personnel in case of emergencies and augment security forces in major power plant installations, as needed.
He said gencos should also ensure that emergency response protocols and Business Continuity Plans are updated to include prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine cold storage facilities and healthcare facilities in cases of power outages.
The chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health on Wednesday urged the Department of Health to intensify its information dissemination campaign on the government’s National Vaccination Program to boost public confidence on the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Since day one, I think we are able to run well the rollout of our National Vaccination Program. The process goes well. But my appeal to the DOH is to intensify its campign on the government’s vaccination program with the help of our local local government units,” Tan said at news forum Wednesday.
Tan said the DOH should strengthen its information dissemination efforts on the vaccination program “while we still have time” given the limited supply of vaccines.
“‘The most challenging at this time would be on how we will convince our people to cooperate and join the government’s campaign. Because without this effort, we may not be able to reach the target to develop herd immunity through vaccination,” Tan warned.
Tan, a medical doctor by profession, received the first dose of the China-made CoronaVac vaccine at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center as part of her eldest son’s allocation for the family as a surgeon at the state-owned hospital.
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