Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News
More than 700 health workers were inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine during the first day of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout on Monday using donated doses from the Chinese drugmaker Sinovac, officials said.
In an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo, Department of Health spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said at 404 health workers from different hospitals in Metro Manila have already been vaccinated.
“Based on the current numbers that we have, we have about 404 who were vaccinated in these different hospitals,” she said, adding that they have to receive the numbers from Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), as of 8 p.m. Monday.
VMMC head Dominador Chiong Jr. said in a separate interview on TeleRadyo that 365 individuals were inoculated in his facility.
Vergeire said some hospitals exceeded their expected number of health workers who signed up for vaccination.
“Ito po ay tuloy-tuloy hanggang ma-exhaust ‘yung lahat ng nagpirma na sila ay willing to accept this type of vaccine. Itutuloy po natin yan hanggang matapos po yan. We have allocations po for different hospitals in Metro Manila,” she said.
(This will continue until we inoculate all those who expressed their intent to get vaccinated. We will continue the vaccination until we finish this. We have allocations for different hospitals in Metro Manila.)
Aside from the VMMC, the Sinovac vaccine was also sent to the Philippine General Hospital, V. Luna Medical Center, Dr. Jose N Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Pasig City General Hospital, Philippine National Police General Hospital in Camp Crame, and the Lung Center of the Philippines.
Vergeire said they are eyeing to finish the initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine within 2 weeks.
“‘Yun pong matitirang bakuna, ipapasok po natin ‘yung ating quick substitution list,” she said.
(The remaining vaccines will be used on those in our quick substitution list.)
“Magsusunod-sunod po tayo. Pero this time, we have to look at other regions as well,” she added.
(We will continue vaccination. But this time, we have to look at other regions as well.)
According to Vergeire, among those who were vaccinated, 13 suffered minor adverse effects, which included an increase in blood pressure, pain on the injection site, nausea, itching and rashes.
“Lahat po ito ay considered as minor adverse events. And ito po ay lahat na vinalidate natin at minanage. Lahat po sila ngayon ay nakauwi na. Wala tayong in-admit sa ospital,” she said.
(All of these are considered as minor adverse effects, and we validated and managed all those who showed side effects. All of them were sent home. No one was admitted in the hospital.)
“Ito po ay common lang, hindi kailangang katakutan,” she added.
(These are common side effects and should not be feared.)
The Philippines began its vaccination program in hopes of an immediate return to normalcy as the country races to stop the spread of COVID-19.
This year, the country aims to inoculate 70 million of its 108 million people to achieve herd immunity and reopen an economy that in 2020 saw its worst contraction on record, due largely to tight restrictions on movement in place since mid-March.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., earlier said the government is eyeing to vaccinate 1.7 million health workers this March.
Despite having among the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Asia, the Philippines is the last Southeast Asian country to receive its initial set of vaccines.
The country has recorded a total of 578,381 total coronavirus infections, as of Monday, of which, 31,708 or 5.5 percent are active cases.