By J. Jala | 12:29 PM March 01, 2021
Philippine General Hospital (PGH) director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi on Monday became the Philippines’ first official recipient of a vaccine against Covid-19.
Legaspi received a shot of CoronaVac, manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech, during a symbolic vaccination ceremony at the UP-PGH grounds attended by top government officials.
The vaccine was administered by Nurse Chareluck Santos.
“Si Dr. Legaspi ang nanguna sa atin sa laban na ito kaya karapat-dapat lang na siya ang unang tumanggap ng ating bakuna,” PGH spokesperson Dr. Jonas Del Rosario said.
“Kayong dalawa ay nasa kasaysayan na ng COVID-19,” he added, referring to Legaspi and Santos.
Among those vaccinated at the PGH were FDA Director General Eric Domingo, MMDA Chief Benhur Abalos, and Dr. Edsel Salvana of the DOH Technical Advisory Group. Next in line were Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez. Meanwhile, testing czar Vince Dizon, was the second to receive the vaccine at TALA Hospital after its Director Fritz Famaran was inoculated.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will not receive the vaccines made by Sinovac since he is not included in the allowable age range which is 18-59, the Department of Health said.
The ceremony — one among several symbolic vaccinations scheduled within the day — was held in a bid to boost public confidence in the vaccination program in light of polls showing low trust in vaccines.
The first batch of vaccines will be rolled out to several hospitals in Metro Manila also on Monday, marking a turning point in the country’s battle against Covid-19.
Aside from PGH, the priority hospitals for vaccination are the Lung Center of the Philippines, Veterans Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium (Tala Hospital), PNP General Hospital, Pasig City General Hospital, and the V. Luna Medical Center.
Only 180 of the 1,165 surveyed at the Tala Hospital expressed interest in the Sinovac vaccine. The hospital chief said a contingency plan is in place to avoid wastage.
The Department of Health has assured health workers that the vaccine is “safe” and “beneficial” for them as it can reduce morbidity and mortality linked to COVID-19.
Citing data from the Sinovac’s dossier, an epidemiologist also said the Chinese vaccine showed 100% efficacy against severe Covid-19.
The next batch of vaccination remains uncertain since only 600,000 doses of Sinovac – good for 300,000 people — have arrived in the country.
The government aims to secure 148 million doses to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos this year.
Only the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac have been approved for emergency use by the FDA. With reports from Radyo Pilipinas