PGH nurses 'honored, privileged' to be PH's first COVID-19 vaccinators

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2021 01:10 AM

PGH nurses 'honored, privileged' to be PH's first COVID-19 vaccinators 1
Philippine General Hospital in Manila. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - An official of the Philippine General Hospital who lost his parents to COVID-19 will be the first recipient of the vaccine against the pathogen in the hospital.

PGH spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario himself also contracted the virus last year.

“I did not volunteer to be the first one to get the vaccine. I was having second thoughts, not because I didn’t want to get the vaccine... I already have some sort of antibodies,” Del Rosario said in a webinar Friday.

“Gap told me, the reason probably why, if I should say something about it, the reason why I could be one of the first is to put credibility and confidence to others,” he added.

Chareluck Santos, head nurse of the UP Health Service, is tasked to administer Del Rosario’s vaccine. This makes her the first vaccinator assigned at the PGH.

Santos said the training she underwent at the Department of Health was not an easy one. She then passed on what she learned and trained about twenty more vaccinators at the PGH.

“Kinabahan ako, at the same time, excited din. Ito na ang isa sa pinakahinihintay naming HCWs [healthcare workers],” Santos told ABS-CBN News in an interview over Zoom on Sunday.

(I feel nervous, but at the same time also excited. This is what we healthcare workers have been waiting for.)

“Na-challenge din ako. Kami 'yung magsisimula kaya kailangan magawa namin nang maayos at mahusay ang pagbabakuna.”

(I also feel challenged. We will kickstart this so our work should be good and orderly.)

Santos said they were trained on how to properly aspirate the vaccine, or the process of taking the vaccine from the vial to the syringe. At least five doses can be extracted from each vial.

The head nurse stressed they want to make sure that every drop will be used on the thousands of PGH employees set to get vaccinated.

Marian Villanueva, nurse trainer of the PGH Division of Nurse Training and Education, meanwhile, is tasked to give PGH director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi his vaccine shot.

Villanueva said she feels "both anxious and excited." 

"Director ito. I have to make sure na tama ang pagbabakuna ko at hindi masyadong masakit kasi director namin 'yun. But it’s also a privilege na ako ang na-assign,” she said.

(This is a director. I need to make sure that I do it correctly and it's not too painful because he's our director. But it's also a privilege that I was assigned to do this.)

Villanueva recalled one of the things they focused on during the training was the proper handling of the highly sensitive COVID-19 vaccine.

Villanueva emphasized that “aside from being vaccinators, we want to be advocates of vaccination.”

The two nurses said they are ready to take on the challenge of being the first COVID-19 vaccinators in the country.

They have a message to Filipinos who are still undecided and hesitant to get vaccinated. Only 3 out of 10 individuals in Metro Manila are willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) revealed Sunday.

“Normal lang magkaroon ng takot dahil ito ay bagong bakuna. Pero ang ating takot ay ating malalabanan sa tamang pag-aaral at pag-alam kung ano ba talaga ang bakunang ito at makapagdesisyon din tayo sa ating sarili,” Santos said.

(It's normal to have worries because this is a new vaccine. But our fears should be dispelled by correctly studying this and knowing what this vaccine really is so that we can decide for ourselves.)

 “We must educate ourselves because that will address our fears and anxiety sa vaccine," Villanueva added.

The PGH is set to conduct a dry run of its vaccination program on Monday.

The Philippines' vaccination program is expected to begin this February, either in the third or fourth week.

Government has yet to announce when the vaccines will arrive from the COVAX Facility, an initiative that ensures equitable access to COVID-19 shots.

Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said he was hoping that an initial batch of 117,000 doses manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech will arrive on Feb. 15.

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