MANILA— More than 13,000 health workers so far have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Philippines days after the inoculation drive began across the country, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Saturday.
The Philippines, which has lagged behind its neighbors in Asia in starting the vaccine rollout, has almost 1.8 million health care workers, Vergeire noted. They are top priority on government's vaccination list.
"As of 6 p.m. noong kahapon mayroon na tayong 13,639 individuals na nabigyan ng bakuna among our 39 vaccination sites,” Vergeire said in a public press briefing.
(As of 6 p.m. yesterday we have 13,639 individuals who have been inoculated in our 39 vaccination sites.)
Vergeire said she was expecting the number to rise now that AstraZeneca vaccines have arrived.
Among those inoculated, 61 experienced adverse effects.
"Well, andiyan pa rin po 'yung tinatawag natin na refusals among health workers. Nag-increase after 2 days na napunta tayo sa 3,000, 4,000. We expect na tataas na lalo na’t may ibibigay sa kanila na option lalo na the AstraZeneca vaccines are here already," Vergeire said.
Video courtesy of PTV
Prior to the launch of government’s inoculation drive, some hospitals have noted a drop among health workers willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as they expressed reservation about Chinese-made Sinovac vaccines, the first brand to arrive in the country which is said to have lower efficacy rates compared to others such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
The DOH earlier reiterated that Sinovac vaccines can protect against serious symptoms of COVID-19.
Sinovac shots arrived last Sunday, while AstraZeneca vaccines reached the country on Thursday.
Vergeire said the available AstraZeneca vaccines so far, and the jabs promised from Pfizer in the next two weeks, can cover some 600,000 health workers.
She added that they will have to wait for additional doses before moving on to the next priority sector, which are senior citizens.
The government has started distributing AstraZeneca vaccines to different Metro Manila hospitals, which are expected to start administering it this Saturday, March 5.
The Philippines, which has among the highest COVID-19 cases in Asia, aims to vaccinate 70 million people to achieve herd immunity.