6,733 frontline health workers in Region 12 receive Sinovac COVID-19 jabs

FIRST INOCULATION. A Department of Health nurse administers the first dose of the Sinovac-made vaccine, CoronaVac, on Dr. Aileen Brion, head of the Sarangani Health Care Facility in Alabel town as a fellow physician looks on. Brion is the first to receive the vaccine in Region 12 as Sarangani health authorities decided to proceed with the inoculation a day ahead of the regional schedule. MindaNews photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 15 March) – At least 6,733 frontline healthcare workers in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) have received the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines donated by China during the initial vaccination rollout in the area.

Arjohn Gangoso, health education and promotion officer of the Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12, said Monday such coverage represents 75.09 percent of the eligible 8,967 medical professionals and staff members of 23 referral hospitals for COVID-19 patients in the region.

He said the seven-day inoculation of the first batch of recipients in the region ended on Sunday, March 14.

North Cotabato posted the highest coverage at 93.65 percent or 413 of 441 priority health care workers, followed by this city with 84.96 percent or 2,666 of 3,138, Sarangani with 81.85 percent or 275 of 336, South Cotabato with 79.16 percent or 1,455 of 1,838, Sultan Kudarat with 69.24 percent or 745 of 1,076, and Cotabato City with 55.14 percent or 1,179 of 3,138.

Gangoso said some of the recipients have experienced side effects due to the vaccination but were considered minor.

“It was successful overall as it exceeded our expectations in terms of the turnout,” he told reporters here.

Rural health units or local health offices earlier reported low acceptance rates for the vaccine among the target health workers but the figures significantly improved during the rollout.

Dr. Sharir Dulduco, DOH provincial officer for Sarangani and this city, said they are satisfied so far with the outcome of the vaccination in the area.

He said they expect that more health care workers will participate in the upcoming round of inoculation.

Region 12 received around 18,000 doses of CoronaVac, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical Sinovac Biotech, for the initial rollout of the vaccination program for priority health workers.

An additional 35,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived last week for the second batch of recipients, who will be inoculated from March 16 to 22.

Dulduco said that based on guidelines set by their central office, all unused vaccines will be returned to the cold storage facility of their regional office in Cotabato City.

“We are still waiting for instruction from our central office if they will be used in the next inoculation activities,” he said.

He said they expect the arrival of additional Sinovac vaccines before the scheduled start of the vaccination for the second dose or booster shot of the recipients on April 5. (Richelyn Gubalani / MindaNews)