By Joseph B.A. Marzan
The regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) revealed on Saturday that the first round of vaccinations against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was less than what the national government had allocated for the region.
Vaccinations started March 5, 2021, hours after the first batch of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Iloilo.
DOH-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD) Infectious Diseases Cluster Head Dr. Mary Jane Juanico said that around 6,000 vaccines arrived in Iloilo, while another batch of more than 6,000 arrived in Bacolod City at the same time.
The vaccines were stored in DOH-WV CHD’s Cold Storage Warehouse in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
Juanico said the vaccines have already been turned over to the COVID-19 Referral Hospitals in the region, with the following allocations:
– St. Paul’s Hospital Iloilo – 400 vials
– Western Visayas Medical Center – 500 vials
– Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital – 1,800 vials
– Dr. Pablo O. Torre Memorial Hospital (Riverside Medical Center) – 400 vials
– Iloilo Doctors Hospital – 200 vials
– West Visayas State University Medical Center – 500 vials
The first “ceremonial vaccinations” were conducted at St. Paul’s Hospital in Iloilo City and the Bacolod City Government Center.
There were no Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) or Adverse Events of Special Interest (AESI) reported as of Saturday evening.
AEFI and AESI refer to side effects after the administration of the vaccine dose to a person.
Juanico told Aksyon Radyo Iloilo on Saturday that the needed number of COVID-19 vaccinations in medical employees is around 25,000 to 27,000.
The national government on March 2 announced that 8,438 persons in Western Visayas were eligible for the Sinovac vaccines, which is around 30 percent of the ideal number, Juanico said.
Juanico said less than 50 percent of the total vaccines allocated to the region have been administered but she did not give an exact number.
She said that they have given COVID-19 Referral Facilities until 1 pm today, March 8, to finish the vaccinations.
Unused vaccines will be given to the remaining Level 3 Hospitals – the Iloilo Mission Hospital in Jaro, Iloilo City, and the Adventist Medical Center and The Doctors’ Hospital in Bacolod City.
Remaining allocations will also be given to DOH hospitals such as the Western Visayas Sanitarium in St. Barbara, Iloilo, and the Don Jose S. Monfort Medical Center Extension Hospital in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, then to the provincial COVID-19 Referral Facilities and Level 2 Hospitals managed by local government units.
If there are still some vials left, these will be given to Level 2 private hospitals.
Level 2 private hospitals in Iloilo City include The Medical City, QualiMed, Medicus Medical Center, Metro Iloilo Hospital and Medical Center, and AMOSUP-Seamen’s Hospital.
The current COVID-19 Referral Facilities were also instructed to prepare a Quick Substitution List of possible vaccine recipients who can quickly replace those who have not consented to vaccination or those who deferred.
“As of yesterday, we have started delivering vaccines to our six priority hospitals, and we also informed them that we would have cut off on those who would want to be vaccinated with Sinovac until 12 pm on Monday so their allocations which have no more recipients, we can actually transfer them to our other priority list of health facilities,” Juanico said.
She reiterated that the DOH recognizes the hesitancy towards CoronaVac made by Chinese biotech company Sinovac.
The national government’s leniency towards the China-made vaccine was met with heavy criticism last year and early into the new year, due to test results in Brazil showing 50 percent efficacy rate against mild COVID-19 symptoms.
Juanico encouraged those who are eligible to take the vaccine at the soonest time to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the region.
She alluded to results in China and Turkey which showed 100 percent efficacy in Phase 3 trials, as well as studies on other vaccines which had showed the same efficacy rate.
“We cannot stop COVID-19 from going around the world, most specially here in Region 6, so as much as we all want this to be healed, what we can only do now is to reduce the morbidity and mortality, and as much as possible, we stop severe infection. As we’ve seen the studies on Sinovac and other vaccinations, the vaccines can prevent at least 100 percent that it will not be severe or critical condition of an infected COVID-19 patient if they are vaccinated,” she said.
Ceremonial vaccinations have been confirmed for today at West Visayas State University Medical Center and the Iloilo Doctors Hospital.