MANILA – The Philippines kicked off its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on Monday morning, with shots to be administered to some frontline healthcare workers at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and top government officials, an effort meant to boost public confidence in vaccination.
The first dose of China's Sinovac-made "CoronaVac" vaccine was given to UP-PGH Director Dr. Gerardo “Gap” Legaspi. He was vaccinated by nurse Chareluck Santos.
Legaspi’s colleague, Dr. Edsel Salvaña, Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at UP-National Institutes of Health, was the second person to get vaccinated.
"We have vaccinated around 96 individuals already in one hour. This is a lot more than we expected... we’re stopping at 100 and we will prepare better for tomorrow. Tatapusin po natin ang isang daan (We will vaccinate only about 100 today)," Legaspi said.
Earlier, UP-PGH spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario said close to 10 percent of UP-PGH workers said they are willing to receive the CoronaVac vaccine, while 90 percent said they preferred a different jab.
Government officials who have lined up to get vaccinated with CoronaVac are vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Benhur Abalos, and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
All vaccine recipients will be observed for either 15 or 30 minutes after vaccination.
In a press briefing before the ceremonial vaccination, Domingo encouraged the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Huwag lang sana natin maging choice yung hindi magpapabakuna. Kasi 'yung pagpapabakuna para sa Covid-19 para ‘yan sa sarili natin, para sa pamilya natin, tsaka para sa bansa natin (Let’s not choose not to get vaccinated. Because getting vaccinated for Covid-19 is for ourselves, for our family, and our country),” Domingo said.
On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte personally witnessed the arrival of the initial 600,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccines donated by China to the Philippines and inspected the crates containing the vials during the ceremonial turnover to the Philippine government.
Of the 600,000 doses, 100,000 are allotted for the country’s uniformed personnel while the remaining 500,000 doses will be for frontline health care workers.
Sinovac's CoronaVac is the third Covid-19 vaccine brand to be approved for emergency use after Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca, respectively.
Simultaneous vaccinations are being held in six hospitals in Metro Manila -- Lung Center of the Philippines, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Center and Sanitarium, Veterans Memorial Medical Center, Philippine National Police General Hospital, and Victoriano Luna Medical Center. (PNA)