Philippines inoculates 756 in first day of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 02 2021 11:12 AM

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III administers the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to V. Luna Medical Center Chief Col. Fatima Navarro in Quezon City on March 1, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A total of 756 people received their COVID-19 vaccine on the country's first day of inoculation, which was "quite satisfactory," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesday.

The Philippines received its first legal coronavirus shots from China's Sinovac Biotech on Sunday and began inoculating some frontline workers and a handful of officials on Monday.

"Yesterday’s rollout was quite satisfactory and there was much pride and joy in seeing that at long last, the health care workers had started to receive their vaccination, protection against COVID-19. It was really quite heartwarming to witness the historic event," Duque told ANC's Headstart.

"The total was 756 as of last reporting period yesterday," he said when asked how many were inoculated.

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Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, director of the Philippine General Hospital, received the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine shot. 

Food and Drug Administration Director-General Eric Domingo and Dr. Edsel Salvana, who is part of the Department of Health Technical Advisory Group and also a PGH doctor, were also among the first to be inoculated.

Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos, Jr. were also vaccinated at the PGH.

Duque, although present at different ceremonies on Monday, did not receive the vaccine as he was 64 years old. The emergency use authorization granted to the Sinovac vaccine states that it can only be administered to those aged 18 to 59.

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The 600,000 doses from Sinovac that were donated by the Chinese government will be used for 300,000 people, said Duque. These shots will be deployed to different hospitals across the country, with about 12 hospitals expected to hold simultaneous vaccinations on Tuesday.

"We’re deploying to as many healthcare facilities as we can, but remember that we have only less than 20 percent of the total required doses of about 3.4 million needed to inoculate about 1.7 million health care workers," he said.

He also called on health workers to get themselves immunized with the vaccine currently available, as the government tries its best to get more brands into the country.

"I beg our health care workers: magpabakuna na po tayo. Wag na po tayong magduda o mag-alinlangan, magkaroon ng agam-agam dahil ang pinakamagandang bakuna po ay yung andito na," he said.

"Iisang klase pa lang po ito. Ginagawa ng inyong gobyerno, nagpupunyagi na talagang makapasok ang anim pang mga bakuna na atin pong aangkatin," he added.

(I beg of our health care workers: let us please get ourselves vaccinated. Let's not doubt or waver, have hesitations because the best vaccine is what's here. This is only one kind. Your government is striving to import 6 more vaccines.)

The FDA initially said the Sinovac vaccine was not recommended for health workers who were exposed to COVID-19 patients, but the interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) later cleared its use despite the regulator's earlier reservations.

Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and AstraZeneca have earlier been given emergency use authorization as well. The Philippines had been expecting coronavirus shots from these brands from the COVAX facility, but these had been delayed.

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