More health workers now willing to get vaccinated with Sinovac, DOH says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 6) — After almost a week of rollout, the Department of Health said it has observed an increase in the number of health workers willing to receive China’s Sinovac vaccine.

“I think that the perception of the people and the trust of the people dito sa mga bakuna, specific sa Sinovac, ay nagbago kasi nga nakikita natin ang per day na accomplishment ng bawat ospital,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a briefing.

[Translation: I think that the perception of the people and the trust of the people on the vaccines, specifically on Sinovac, changed since we see the per day accomplishments of each hospital.]

She noted that a total of 13,639 health workers have been already vaccinated as of March 5, an improvement from only 700 on the first day of the program’s implementation.

Vergeire said this is expected to increase since health workers are now given another option with the availability of AstraZeneca vaccines.

Some 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac arrived early this week, which was followed by 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility on Thursday. The remaining 38,400 doses also from the said facility are expected on Sunday.

Concerns were earlier raised regarding the use of Sinovac vaccines to health workers, given its low efficacy rate at 50.4%, especially for those exposed to COVID-19 patients. However, after further evaluation, health experts said it would be best to use the first vaccine available to these workers to give them the protection they need.

Meanwhile, Vergeire assured that “nothing is uncontrollable at this point” amid increasing COVID-19 cases in specific areas.

Ang sinasabi namin (What we are saying is) there is marked increase of cases. We are not going to say that it is a wave, it is a surge,” she said, adding that vaccination will continue despite the detection of more cases of the United Kingdom and South Africa variants since there is still insufficient evidence that state these affect vaccine efficacy.

Strict quarantine restrictions may also be implemented, if needed, but this may be prevented by following health protocols, the health official said.

Vergeire said they will meet with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Metro Manila mayors, hospital chiefs, and regional directors to discuss remedies to the situation.