8,700 CoronaVac doses now in De Oro for start of Northern Mindanao vaccination
ILIGAN CITY—Coronavirus vaccination in Northern Mindanao would start on Friday (March 5) with health workers at Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) in Cagayan de Oro City getting the first shots.
President Rodrigo Duterte was widely expected to visit the hospital any time on Friday as a side tri to his meeting in Cagayan de Oro City with agencies involved in projects to end the insurgency.
NMMC is the region’s main COVID-19 referral facility. The Department of Health (DOH) has allocated 1,820 shots for NMMC workers.
“We will start with our COVID-19 dedicated hospitals starting with the level 3 DOH hospital, the Northern Mindanao Medical Center,” said Dr. Ellenietta Gamolo, officer-in-charge of the regional DOH office.
At least 8,700 doses of CoronaVac, manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac and donated by China, arrived at the Laguindingan Airport on Thursday (March 4) aboard a Philippine Airlines flight. These were transported to a storage facility at the DOH regional office in Cagayan de Oro.
Gamolo said the vaccines were safe and “effective to use.”
CoronaVac was given emergency use authorization by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“We urge everyone who are part of the priority group for this vaccination to please get yourself vaccinated with whatever brand that is available for us because our government would not be giving us a vaccine that is not safe and not effective at all,” Gamolo said.
As of Thursday, up to 1,400 of NMMC’s 1,820 employees eligible for vaccination have expressed intent to be injected, said Dr. Julius Rocha, liaison officer of the hospital.
The number has climbed from only 1,000 two weeks ago.
Next to NMMC in priority are other government hospitals and private hospitals. On top of the list are facilities considered to be level 3.
In Iligan city, the local government will hold on Friday a vaccination simulation in preparation for the arrival of vaccines.
Dr. Belinda Lim, head of Iligan’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center, said at least 3,000 workers from seven hospitals, six private and one government, are eligible to get the shots in Iligan City.
But it was not yet known how many doses will be given to Iligan as the vaccination starts on March 8.
At least 262 doctors of the Iligan Medical Society (IMS) have expressed willingness to get vaccinated.
Dr. Armando Isla Jr., IMS president, said he will be very happy to be among the first to get injected because he had been exposed to COVID-19 patients and was aware of infection risks.
“This is the way to reduce my worries,” said Isla, a 40-year-old otorhinolaryngologist.
Dr. Leonell Quitos, 34, an infectious disease specialist, said he will be the first to fall in line should vaccination start in Iligan because it would mean protection also for his family.
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