MANIILA — Workers at the Universidad de Manila received Tuesday their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines in a symbolic vaccination ceremony.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Manila Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan administered CoronaVac shots from China's Sinovac to some of UDM's frontliners, including security and maintenance personnel, office staff, and instructors.
UDM President Maria Lourdes Tiquia said around 150 to 200 school personnel registered to get the jabs.
"Namili lang kami talaga, iyong consistent na nandiyan from day one at gumagawa ng frontline activities," she said.
(We really picked who would receive the vaccines, those who have been there consistently since day one at doing frontline activities.)
In a separate press briefing earlier in the day, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera said he hoped other local governments would follow Manila and start vaccinating their education frontliners.
"We hope that other LGUs would follow the lead of Manila and start vaccinating their education frontliners in preparation [for] the closing of the school year and also eventually the opening of the next school year," he said.
The symbolic vaccination coincided with the celebration of the 1st National Higher Education Day.
The ceremony, however, does not mark the start of inoculation for all education workers in the country.
Instead, the event is meant to help boost confidence in the vaccination program as the government is set to inoculate the A4 priority group — which includes education frontliners and other essential workers — as soon as the supply of vaccines is sufficient, according to the Department of Health.
The Pamantansan ng Lungsod ng Pasig, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina and Marikina Polytechnic College are also set to hold symbolic vaccinations of their workers on Wednesday, according to the CHED.
Aside from the government's COVID-19 vaccination program, "many big" private universities have expressed interest to procure their own COVID-19 vaccines, De Vera said.
He did not name any of the schools but said they are connected to conglomerates.
"Because remember some of our schools are part of business conglomerates... they have the financial capability to procure their own vaccines," he said.
The Philippines is targeting to have 70 million of its population vaccinated by the end of the year to achieve herd immunity against the respiratory illness. On Monday, the government said it has administered 2.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.