MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) rolled out the vaccination program for its personnel stationed in Mindanao in a bid to boost the public’s confidence on COVID-19 jabs.
In a statement, the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) said it started a “symbolic vaccination” of Beijing’s Sinovac in front of Camp Panacan Station Hospital, Davao City on Monday, with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana as guests.
China’s military earlier donated some 100,000 vaccine doses from Sinovac for the Philippine military as the official supplies arrived on Feb. 28. A total of 1,200 vaccine doses, meanwhile, are allocated for EastMinCom, covering 300 individuals, the statement read.
“We encourage every member of the AFP to take part in this vaccination program. This is not only meant to protect us from the virus but also to encourage everyone, especially those who are still undecided to be inoculated,” Sobejana was quoted as saying.
Three military health officers who received the first shots during the vaccine drive said they did not experience any adverse effects.
“Those who engage in health-related works are being prioritized by the Command based on the guidelines set forth by [Department of Health] to put health workers on top of the inoculation priority list followed by senior citizens, low-income individuals, and then military personnel,” the military explained.
Lorenzana said more vaccines are expected to arrive in the country “in the next couple of weeks.”
The Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) also started its vaccination drive on Tuesday at their gymnasium, with a military medical personnel getting the first dose.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., WesMinCom commander, said his command would prioritize their health workers in the vaccine rollout.
“This signifies the massive inoculation of the COVID-19 vaccine in this unit. Our priority is to administer the vaccine to all health workers of the Command,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly vowed to prioritize uniformed personnel for the vaccine rollout, along with health workers and poor Filipinos.
The Philippines started its vaccination program on March 1 after almost a year into various forms of lockdowns.
The country aims to inoculate some 70 million people out of 108 million this year in a bid to achieve herd immunity.