Malacañang hails ‘very successful’ first day of COVID-19 vaccination
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday hailed what it called a successful kick-off of the COVID-19 vaccination in select hospitals in Metro Manila on Monday.
During a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said some Philippine General Hospital workers (PGH) even shed tears when they saw their director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi being vaccinated with CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine from Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech.
Roque was among the guests on the first day of vaccination at the PGH.
“Naging napakatagumpay po ng Day 1 ng ating national Covid-19 vaccination program kung saan lahat po ay nagdiwang, may iba pa nga pong naiyak sa tuwa lalo na po sa PGH noong nakita nila na nagpapabakuna si Dr. Gap Legaspi,” he said.
(Day 1 of the national COVID-19 vaccination program was really successful. Everyone celebrated. Others even shed tears of joy at the PGH, especially when they saw Dr. Gap Legaspi being vaccinated.)
“Maligaya po ang ating mga medical frontliners kasi nga po nagkaroon sila ng peace of mind na bagama’t sila po ay exposed dito sa coronavirus ay meron na silang proteksyon ngayon,” he added.
(Our medical frontliners are happy because they now have peace of mind that they now have protection if they are exposed to the coronavirus.)
Roque noted that there were more than 120 vaccinees at the PGH on the first day, which he said is higher than the expected 60 recipients.
The Food and Drug Administration earlier advised against the use of CoronaVac for healthcare workers attending to COVID-19 patients because of its only 50.4 percent efficacy on their group based on data from Brazil.
However, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (Nitag) later recommended the use of CoronaVac even for health workers.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that clinical trial data from Sinovac showed that the vaccine was “50-percent effective in preventing mild symptoms and 100-percent effective against moderate to severe symptoms.”
“Given this evidence, the Nitag has deemed it sufficient to recommend the use of the vaccine for HCWS (health-care workers) as it bears to reiterate that our goal for prioritizing health-care workers for vaccination is to reduce morbidity and mortality among their group while they maintain the most critical essential health services,” she said.
A total of 756 individuals, mostly health workers, were vaccinated during the first day of the country’s inoculation drive.
The first day of the simultaneous vaccine roll-out was held at the PGH, Lung Center of the Philippines, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center and Sanitarium (Tala), Veterans Memorial Medical Center, Philippine National Police General Hospital in Camp Crame, and Victoriano Luna Medical Center.
However, some health workers also denounced the policies on using Sinovac’s vaccine, saying these raised doubts on whether they were being provided only safe and highly effective inoculation jabs.
“We are dismayed at the sudden turnaround in the decision of the government to inoculate health workers with [the vaccine from] Sinovac, sacrificing the health and safety of the health workers,” Alliance of Health Workers national president Robert Mendoza also said.
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