THOUGH hesitant at first, the number of healthcare workers (HCWs) at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City who consented to be inoculated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine has increased as of Wednesday, March 3, 2021.
VSMMC chief Dr. Gerardo Aquino Jr. said 1,246 HCWs of the hospital have already agreed to be vaccinated.
Aquino, 56, was the first to get the Sinovac vaccine during a ceremony for the first vaccine rollout in the Visayas and Mindanao held inside the new Center for Behavioral Sciences building of the VSMMC at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 4.
After Aquino, Dr. Juanito Tiu of St. Anthony Mother and Child Hospital, Dr. Pythagoras Zerna of Eversley Childs Sanitarium and General Hospital, Ret. Maj. Gen. Melquiades Feliciano of the Inter-Agency Task Force Central Visayas, and Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, Department of Health (DOH) 7 spokesperson and chief pathologist, also received Sinovac’s vaccine.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan and Chinese Consulate-General Jia Li were present to witness the inoculations.
“There was just a little pain on the injection, just like the ordinary vaccination. Other than that, they kept on monitoring my vital signs and BP (blood pressure) and it was okay,” Aquino said during the post- vaccination briefing.
Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo of the Field Implementation and Coordination Team administered the vaccine on Aquino.
For her part, Loreche said now that they have “shown the way,” they expected fellow healthcare workers, frontliners and Cebuanos to see that the Sinovac vaccine is really safe.
“We believe that we have to have the vaccine as it is now because this the best vaccine that we have at this moment,” Loreche said.
Loreche dedicated her voluntary vaccination with the Sinovac vaccine to the medical frontliners who have lost their lives in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I would always remember our fallen colleagues as they fought Covid with us,” she said.
Around 50 to 70 VSMMC healthcare workers were scheduled to be vaccinated along with the hospital’s officials on March 4.
Thereafter, the DOH 7 targets about 500 healthcare workers a day for vaccination in the coming days.
Aquino said the inoculation of nurses and doctors at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila helped boost the confidence of the HCWs in VSMMC to have themselves vaccinated with the same Sinovac vaccine.
The VSMMC received 7,200 doses of CoronaVac on Tuesday, March 2, the first batch of vaccines to reach the Visayas.
Aquino said these will be enough to cover the second or last dose of the vaccine for the complete vaccination of priority medical frontliners.
On the first day of the vaccine rollout on Thursday, 15 vaccinators were deployed by the VSMMC.
Aquino said based on the guidelines, HCWs have the option to wait for their preferred vaccine brand without losing their priority status.
But he said he hoped more VSMMC HCWs would trust and agree to be given CoronaVac in the coming days.
Aquino said if some VSMMC health workers decline vaccination, the unused Sinovac vaccines intended for them will be forwarded to other government hospitals in the region.
“I told the rest of the team of the hospital, maybe in the next third or fourth day, they can send it to whoever is on the list for vaccination,” Aquino said in a mix of Tagalog and English.