ON MARCH 1, 2021, the Philippines finally began with its vaccination program against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) following the arrival of 600,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac vaccine.
Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, director of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (PGH), was the first to receive a dose of CoronaVac. Dr. Edsel Salvana, director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the UP-National Institutes of Health; Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Eric Domingo; and Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos were also inoculated with the vaccine.
"The vaccine that you -- China donated would greatly help in the recovery of the economy. And it starts now, not really now, but maybe tomorrow, once we begin the rollout. And slowly those persons who got the vaccines can go to work again and businesses will open," President Rodrigo R. Duterte Rodrigo said on Sunday, February 28.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, said the government targets to administer the first dose of CoronaVac to all healthcare workers nationwide, who are willing to receive the vaccine, before the end of March.
The Philippines can also expect the arrival of 525,600 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine soon. It was scheduled to arrive on March 1 but was delayed due to a supply shortage.
The country may have experienced several hiccups in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines but we are now seeing progress in the vaccination program of the country.
However, we are not out of the woods yet. There will still be some delays due to factors we cannot control -- supply. The supply of the Covid-19 vaccines across the world is limited while demands for them are high. It should also be noted that the country where the vaccine is being produced, it prioritizes those living in it.
At least, for now, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. As more individuals get vaccinated this year, our economy could reopen further and more people would be able to get their jobs back.
Meanwhile, the start of the vaccination program does not mean that we become complacent. We still have to do our part in managing the risk of transmission.
As we wait for more vaccines to arrive, let us continue to follow basic health protocols like the wearing of face masks, social distancing, proper coughing and sneezing etiquette, and regular washing of hands with soap and water.