BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Covid-19 vaccination program in provincial government-managed hospitals officially kicked off yesterday, with 12 health workers, composed of doctors and nurses, the first to be vaccinated for confidence build up, using China-made Sinovac.
Secretary Vince Dizon announced yesterday, the arrival of 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines for Western Visayas in Iloilo, in which Negros Occidental and Bacolod City will have a share.
Negros Occidental should get it by March 12 or 13, Dizon, who is the Covid-19 testing czar said, although he does not know how many doses will go to the provincial government of Negros Occidental.
“But I instructed them, through the order of vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, is to distribute AstraZeneca immediately,” he said.
DOH recently gave 6,300 doses of Sinovac vaccines, with an excess of 1,600 doses given to the provincial government, for vaccination of an initial 800 healthcare workers of the 11 district hospitals.
Priority for AstraZeneca vaccination will be senior health care workers, Dizon, who with former Rep. Alfredo Benitez, House Minority Leader Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano, Health Assistant Secretary Ma. Paz Corrales, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Silay City Mayor Mark Golez, witnessed the launching of Covid-19 vaccination program at TLJPH in Silay City, said.
As to the Sinovac vaccines, Dizon said Region 6 has all the two doses it needs.
In response to the clamor that Bacolod City and Negros Occidental need more, Dizon said that when the supply arrives again in late March, they will again send.
“We will keep on sending as they arrive,” he added.
100 PERCENT TARGET
As to the reported low acceptance of Sinovac vaccines, Dizon said they are hearing differently about it, stressing that its acceptance in Panay is “very, very high”, and they need more.
“It means the demand is now greater than supply, so we are very happy about it,” he added.
“We explained with the right facts and the right information coming from health experts that all vaccines, regardless of brand, 100 percent protect people from severe disease and deaths. That is the most important, Dizon said.
They are targeting to inoculate the general population by the second half of this year, starting with the health workers, senior citizens and the vulnerable segments of population, especially those with co-morbidities, he added.
Dizon also said that they expecting to complete the vaccination of the entire Philippine health workers by April or May.
Asked for his assessment of the ceremonial launching of vaccination in Negros Occidental, Dizon replied “It’s very fantastic, very touching to see all the health workers being vaccinated at the same time”.
Former Representative-turned provincial consultant Alfredo Benitez said yesterday that about 1 to 2 million doses of Sinovac vaccines, with the same number of Covax supplies are arriving in the country by the end of this month.
Other manufacturers also signified their intention to deliver more vaccines, including the Russian Sputnik Gamalea, which are now waiting for their EUA Emergency Use Approval) to sell, as well as other Chinese vaccines, Benitez said.
“We will be having more vaccination programs across the country, leading to the herd of immunity, which we run after, in order to lower our guards, for us to safely roam around in our communities,” he further said.
Benitez also said that the national government is hoping to hit 50 million individuals being vaccinated by the end of the year, and also cited a study that “ we have now already produced herd immunity”.
“We are now looking at the promising horizon. With vaccination, it will bring us back to where it was before,” Benitez said.*