DOH-7: Vaccine rollout in Cebu expected on March 4
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) is expecting the Cebu rollout of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines to start this Thursday, March 4.
“Based on the meeting this morning (Sunday), the target for Visayas (Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center), is March 4,” said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of DOH-7, in a text message sent to CDN Digital.
But Loreche admitted that plans for the vaccine rollout is not yet definite as of this time, including which brands will be delivered here.
“We will update as soon as we have more data,” she added.
The DOH-7 official also said they are yet to ask for updates from hospital administrators of VSMMC if any of the over 2,900 healthcare workers identified as the first to be administered with the COVID vaccines have expressed intentions to back-out.
Healthcare workers at VSMMC are the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Cebu.
The Philippines received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines last Sunday, February 28, after the Chinese government successfully delivered its donation of 600,000 doses of their Sinovac.
Starting this Monday, March 1, the country is set to start its COVID-19 vaccination program.
Prior to the Sinovac’s arrival, however, an association of doctors at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) insisted that the China-made vaccine must first undergo an appraisal before it is administered to health-care workers at the state-owned hospital, noting that it met sweeping disapproval from its residents.
The FDA noted that Sinovac’s vaccine, CoronaVac, showed only a 50.4-percent efficacy rate for health workers dealing with the coronavirus disease during tests made in Brazil.
The physicians said that the vaccine must be evaluated by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), which they expected to “formulate recommendations with judicious haste.”
“As the national university hospital, PGH should set an example on how vaccination rollout should be executed in the country,” the group said in a statement. “PGH should uphold the ideals of ethical and evidence-based medicine, [of] which it has been a bastion.”
The physicians called on the PGH community to demand a “safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccine for all.”
“We recognize the efforts of the PGH administration in hastening the vaccination process for its constituents. However, the vaccination plan should have been handled with more prudence and transparency,” the group added.
On February 25, PGH administrators announced that it would “take whatever vaccine becomes available.”
This was also the position of DOH-7.
And in a statement issued on February 26, the regional health office also assured the public that all COVID-19 vaccine brands granted with the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) are ‘safe and effective.’
To date, the Philippines’ Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) issued EUA to BioNTech (Pfizer), AstraZeneca (AstraZeneca), and CoronaVac (Sinovac).
“All three vaccines are safe and effective, as evaluated by our experts and the technical working group. We enjoin each one to accept whatever vaccine may be available,” DOH-7 said.
“On the issue of Sinovac’s efficacy at 50 percent, and its non-use for healthcare workers as initially announced by FDA, the DOH-7 would like to reiterate that Sinovac can be used by healthcare workers,” they added. / with reports from Philippine Daily Inquirer
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