Chief doctor says Sinovac is better than no vaccine at all

ROLLOUT. The Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City starts its vaccination program Monday. In photo, Medical Center Chief Dr. Drilon (right) vaccinated one of the nine healthcare workers who were the first to receive Coronavac, a vaccine made by Chinese firm Sinovac Bioethech. The hospital targets to vaccinate at least 750 healthcare workers within this week. (Photo by Erwin P. Nicavera)

“AS A doctor, whatever is available, take it. It’s better than zero protection. This vaccine (Sinovac) is better than no vaccine at all.”

This was stressed by Dr. Julius Drilon, medical chief of Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH), on Monday, March 8, 2021, during the ceremonial vaccination program against Covid-19 held at the hospital Reodica Hall.

Nine of its medical frontliners, six of them doctors, received their first dose of the Sinovac vaccine.

These included Dr. Franklin Delano Tumaneng, Hospital Emergency Incident Command System (HEICS) operations chief; Dr. Joan Cerrada, HEICS planning chief; Antonio Monfort, OIC-chief administrator officer; Marybeth Marcial, chief nurse; John Micahel Gabriel Zaragosa, HEICS public information officer; Dr. Hary Carial, Department of Internal Medicine; Dr. Eirene Ayalin, chairman, Department of Family and Community Medicine; Dr. Carina Frayco, infectious disease specialist; and Dr. Rhea Tabujara, pulmonologist.

A total of 6,300 doses of Sinovac vaccines intended for medical frontliners from CLMMRH and Riverside Medical Center arrived in Bacolod City on Friday. The two hospitals were identified as Level-3 Covid-19 facilities and the medical frontliners are the priority of the Covid-19 vaccine.

These vaccines were allotted by the National Government to prioritize first the medical frontliners assigned at Level-3 Covid-19 facilities. It is part of the 600,000 initial doses donated by China to the Philippine government.

Drilon said initially, a total of 900 frontliners at CLMMRH signified their intention to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

CLMMRH has a total of 1, 743 employees, but Drilon said only half of the number signified their intention to be vaccinated because they did not know the kind of vaccine to be given to them.

He said they were given Sinovac vaccine, but they did not know how many of them are 60 years old and above since Sinovac is only good for recipients aged 18 to 59 years old.

“That’s the reason why we have low number of recipients for Covid-19 vaccine, but we are hopeful that it will increase,” he added.

Drilon said they received a total of 1,800 doses of Sinovac vaccine and will prioritize their frontline services staff, doctors and nurses.

He said the CLMMRH is capable of storing all four brands of Covid-19 vaccines available in the market through the hospital-owned cold storage facilities that are now in place.

Drilon, who just turned 60, also signified to take the first dose of Sinovac vaccine.

“I’ll take the risk and it’s my advice, as a doctor, whatever is available take it. It’s better than zero protection. The recipient will be given two doses of Sinovac vaccine. If you are vaccinated in any four types of the vaccines available in the world now, will not prevent you from being infected but it will just prevent you from going into moderate and severe infection. It will now lessen the admission of Covid-19 related symptoms,” Drilon said.

He said they will start the vaccination for their staff Tuesday, with 150 healthcare workers a day. They are hopeful to finish the Covid-19 vaccination within four to five days.

If they cannot use all the supplied Sinovac vaccine, he added that the Department of Health (DOH) has a guideline on what to do with the excess vaccine for a proper accounting.

“I encourage everybody, my fellow healthcare workers, to have yourself vaccinated because it’s a responsibility to yourself, family and to your community. We have enough doses to accommodate everyone who is willing to be vaccinated,” Drilon said.

For her part, Cerrada said she is happy and proud to be able to protect herself, her family and patients.

Cerrada urged the public to have themselves vaccinated, which is a privilege for everyone because the vaccine is given for free, as she underscored the need for the public to develop herd immunity that can only be achieved if many of the population will be vaccinated.

“We have had everything -- distancing face shield, facemask -- everything, but it’s still there. So what is one that is missing? It’s the vaccination and that’s what we need today to be able to have layers of protection against the virus,” Cerrada said.


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