MANILA—The spokesperson of the Philippine General Hospital will not be the first person to get next week what Malacañang Palace has called the “legal” COVID-19 shots.
Dr. Jonas del Rosario, in an interview with ABS-CBN Teleradyo, said he was informed earlier Friday that he will not be the first to be inoculated.
“Hindi naman po ako nag-back out pero ang sabi po sa akin ay hindi na po ako ang una,” he said.
(I did not back out but they told me that I will not be the first.)
Del Rosario said it was the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force to put him at the back of the line of recipients. He also said they are still waiting for the full list of those who will be receiving the vaccine.
Although the reasons for this new development is still unclear, Del Rosario said he doesn't mind not being the first to receive the vaccine.
“I guess kasi parang, hindi ko rin maintindihan. I don’t really mind, I can even be the last on the line, wala namang kaso sa akin ’yan. I think parang . . . Baka ano dahil siguro ’yung profile ko as recipient ng Sinovac ay less ideal than ’yung isa," he said.
(I guess, I also don't understand. I don't really mind, I can even be the last on the line, that's not an issue for me. I think maybe because of my profile, as a Sinovac vaccine recipient, it’s less ideal than if I will be receiving another [brand of vaccine].)
Del Rosario, who was previously infected with COVID-19, said this may be the reason why he won't be prioritized anymore.
“Parang siguro dahil ako ay nagka-previous infection, kaya parang medyo hindi ako ’yung priority in a way,” he said.
(Maybe because I was previously infected, that is why in a way I am not a priority anymore.)
Del Rosario clarified that he is still willing to be inoculated, but he is ready to wait for his turn, especially since he is among the members of the PGH community who already have antibodies that work against COVID-19.
“In terms of prioritization po, kung talagang limited ’yung vaccine, siyempre uunahin mo ’yung wala pang antibodies,” he said, noting that at least 20 percent of the PGH workforce have developed antibodies.
(In terms of prioritization, if the vaccine supply is really limited, of course, you will prioritize those who still don't have antibodies.)
Del Rosario acknowleged that from a high of 95 percent, those who are willing to be inoculated dropped to 13 percent after the government announced that the vaccine that will be given to PGH is by Sinovac.
“Ngayon, sumadsad po eh. But this is just the initial reaction . . . So we have to gather our materials and informed naman ’yung ating mga kasama na ito naman po ang facts about Sinovac,” he explained.
(Right now, it dropped. But this is just the initial reaction. So we have to gather our materials and inform our colleagues that these are the facts about Sinovac.)
He also explained that the reaction against the Sinovac vaccine is due to the results of the company’s clinical trials that have yet to be published.
“I think one big thing that sort of like contributed to the sudden decrease in approval is kasi nga po, ’yung Sinovac ay hindi pa published, ’yung clinical trials,” Del Rosario said.
He added that the PGH community will have a town hall this Saturday, where members of the IATF and the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) will be talking about the Sinovac vaccine.
“We wanted to talk to these people who saw the data and explain to the community of PGH,” he said.
On Monday, the FDA granted Sinovac an emergency use authorization, but added the vaccine may not be suitable for health workers directly exposed to COVID-19 patients because of its 50.4% efficacy rating in a study in Brazil.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Del Rosario will be the first to get the “legal” COVID-19 shots. Some members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s security detail received unauthorized jabs as far back as September 2020.
Del Rosario fought COVID-19 not just at the hospital but also for people close to his heart.
His father Bonifacio, 90, was infected with the disease in July and was admitted at PGH. Five days later his Jonas' mother Carmelita, 85, tested positive for COVID-19 and had severe pneumonia.
The doctor also caught the virus and recovered but his father died last August 8 followed a month later by his mother.