Sinovac’s vaccine doses arrive in Davao, Cebu

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2) — COVID-19 inoculations outside Metro Manila are set to begin this week as Sinovac’s CoronaVac doses arrived in Cebu and Davao on Tuesday, authorities said.

At least 7,200 Sinovac doses were transported to Cebu via a Philippine Airlines flight. The vaccine shipment arrived at 7:38 a.m., PAL said in a statement. The doses were then brought to Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City where they will be stored before the vaccine rollout on March 4, Inter-Agency Task Force Visayas chief implementer Melquiades Feliciano told CNN Philippines in an interview.

Vicente Sotto hospital director Gerardo Aquino said separately only 600 out of their 2,900 staff are willing to be vaccinated with CoronaVac. He expressed hope the number will increase by Thursday. He added he will be among the first ones to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Likewise, PAL delivered 12,000 doses of CoronaVac to Davao early Tuesday.

Department of Health Davao chief Annabelle Yumang said the vaccines are initially earmarked for the Southern Philippine Medical Center or SPMC in Davao City, Davao Regional Medical Center in Davao del Norte, and only if there is an excess, also for some private hospitals.

“[Of] the 12,000 dosages, 8,000 will be used for the medical frontliners. The remaining 4,000 will be allocated for the second round of vaccination. We will be asking the national office for another 4,000 dosages,” Yumang said.

She said the inoculations in SPMC will begin on Friday and may last for two weeks. The second shot will be administered after 28 days.

For his part, SPMC chief Dr. Ricardo Audan said at least 75% of their 5,900 employees expressed willingness to get the Sinovac vaccine. He added they are targeting to vaccinate 150 employees on Friday. “We are aiming for a quality vaccination more than quantity,” he said.

Audan said that he will be the first to be vaccinated on Friday to boost the confidence of the other frontliners who have yet to decide whether they will be vaccinated or not.

Meanwhile, the date of vaccination in Davao Regional Medical Center is yet to be determined and will commence once inoculation in Davao City has been completed.

With the arrival of 600,000 CoronaVac doses donated by China, the government on Monday rolled out its vaccination program in six hospitals in Metro Manila, considered as the COVID-19 epicenter since the pandemic struck.

Philippine General Hospital Director Dr. Gerardo "Gap" Legaspi was the first person in the country to get a COVID-19 vaccine legally. Prior to the legal shots received by Legaspi, PGH healthcare workers, FDA Director General Eric Domingo, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, among others, it was admitted that several government officials and Presidential security members jumped the priority line and used smuggled vaccines made by China’s Sinopharm as early as last year.