Despite doubts on the legitimacy of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines in the country, medical front-liners welcomed the government's initiative as they are eager to gain protection from the virus.
"I am setting myself as an example as a department manager for the Covid complex (here). Parang wala lang naman siya (I felt almost nothing). This is good for the people," Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) nursing supervisor Gemma Colcol said right after she received her first dose of the China-manufactured Sinovac on Monday.
Colcol, along with four other top officials of VMMC, volunteered to take the vaccine first to calm people's hesitations about its safety.
VMMC director Dr. Dominador Chiong Jr. shared in a separate interview that they got 30,000 Sinovac vaccines but as more people sign up to be inoculated, they will request more from the government.
"We conducted a survey among our staff, even the utilities, asking them who would want to be vaccinated. Those who consented were included. If others won't like it, then we won't force them, but if they will change their minds, they will get it," Chiong said.
Joel Awit, a 37-year-old infectious control nurse, shared his eagerness to be vaccinated.
"I contracted the virus last year (March 2020) and I was lucky that I only got mild symptoms so I am willing to get the vaccine now. Whatever vaccine it is, it will benefit all. I'd rather have the 50 percent protection than nothing," he said.
Cabinet Secretary and co-chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Karlo Nograles lauded the medical front-liners for helping make the public realize that vaccines are important.
"This is an example to the Filipino people,. Sana itong ating tapang (we hope that our bravery) and confidence in the vaccine can be more infectious. Kailangan maintindihan ng Pilipino na kailangan natin tanggapin ang vaccine (Filipinos need to understand that we need to accept the vaccine). It is our civil, moral obligation. It is our responsibility to protect ourselves, our family, the country, the world," he added.
Nograles, along with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte were also at the VMMC. They later joined Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana at the nearby Victoriano Luna Medical Center.
The first doses of Covid-19 vaccines were synchronically administered at the two government hospitals. The other four vaccination sites were the Philippine General Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center and Sanitarium and Philippine National Police General Hospital.
Nograles said the vaccination of government officials aimed to demonstrate that vaccines that have secured emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “are safe and proven means to prevent Covid-19".
“We are here today to assure that we only mean the best for our kababayans as we roll out the government’s vaccination program,” he said.
Apart from medical and healthcare front-liners in hospitals, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Benjamin Abalos Jr., and Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and CEO Vivencio Dizon were among those who received the first doses of the CoronaVac, which was granted an EUA on February 22.
Nograles reiterated “that all vaccines to be acquired by the government will undergo the stringent evaluation and selection process of the FDA to ensure their safety and efficacy.”
“Only FDA-approved vaccines, whether for an EUA or for clinical trials, will be used in inoculating the Filipino people. Regardless of brands or country of origin, all vaccine candidates will undergo the same rigorous regulatory review procedures,” explained the former legislator from Davao. (PNA)
PROTECTED AT LAST. Veterans Memorial Medical Center nursing supervisor Gemma Colcol gives the thumbs-up sign to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (right) after she got her first dose of the Covid vaccine CoronaVac. She said that as the department manager for the Covid complex in their hospital, it is necessary that she gets the vaccine.
Source: Philippines News Agency