18,000 Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines for Region 12 arrive

Region 12 or Soccsksargen. Map courtesy of Google

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 05 March) – At least 18,000 doses of CoronaVac, the vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical Sinovac Biotech to fight the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), arrived Friday in Soccsksargen (Region 12).

Arjohn Gangoso, health education and promotion officer of the Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12, said the initial doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed to 23 COVID-19 referral hospitals in the region.

“The vaccines will be given in two doses four weeks apart,” he said in a text message.

The CoronaVac vials, which are part of the initial donation from the Chinese government, was flown in at the Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao via Philippine Airlines, said Shahana Joy Duerme, the information center manager in Cotabato City of the Philippine Information Agency.

From Manila, the Awang Airport is the closest gateway to Cotabato City, which has been transferred to the supervision of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) last December.

Two years ago, Cotabato City voted for inclusion during the plebiscite for Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, popularly called the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

The creation of the Bangsamoro region was the key component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after 17 years of negotiations.

BARMM, which is seated in Cotabato City, received its initial allocation of 4,200 Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines from the national government on Thursday, also via the Awang airport.

The DOH-12 regional office remained in Cotabato City as its new home in Koronadal City, the seat of government or Region 12, is still under construction.

The CoronaVac vaccines arrived before 11:30 a.m. and were transported to the cold storage room of the DOH-12’s Center for Health Development regional vaccine house in Cotabato City.

The 23 COVID-19 referral facilities that will receive the initial vaccines include private, local government-supported as well as DOH-run and retained hospitals in the area, among them the Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City and the Cotabato Sanitarium in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Earlier this week, Gangoso said that around 9,000 healthcare workers in Region 12 are eligible for COVID-19 inoculation.

Region 12 straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, Jr., South Cotabato health officer, urged health workers in the province to get vaccinated with the arrival of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines.

“There’s a waiver for those who want to get the vaccine. This is not mandatory… But I appeal to our health workers to get vaccinated,” he said in a radio interview.

Nearly 1,900 health care workers in five COVID-19 referral hospitals in South Cotabato are eligible for vaccination, data from the Provincial Health Office showed. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)