GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 06 March) — The Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12 delivered on Saturday 3,138 vials of CoronaVac, the vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac Biotech, for frontline health care workers in six COVID-19 referral hospitals in the four-province, four-city region.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera, City Health Office chief Dr. Rochelle Oco and other officials received the vaccines before noon at the designated cold storage facility inside the city gymnasium in Barangay Lagao.
Dr. Sharir Dulduco, DOH provincial officer for Sarangani and this city, said the vaccines are the first batch of the approved allocation for the city based on the number of priority health workers who are directly handling COVID-19 patients.
He said these are doctors, nurses and other personnel of hospitals with dedicated wards and treatment facilities for COVID-19 cases.
“This is enough for the first dose of the identified priority health workers,” he said in an interview with reporters.
Dulduco said a total of 697 doses were allotted for the St. Elizabeth Hospital, 670 for Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital, 527 for General Santos Doctor’s Hospital, 521 for Socsargen County Hospital, 380 for Mindanao Medical Center and 343 for GenSan Medical Center.
He said they expect the delivery of the additional vaccines before the inoculation for the second dose after 28 days.
Dulduco said the six referral hospitals are ready with the rollout of the vaccines through their assigned sites, mostly situated within their facilities or compounds.
The St. Elizabeth Hospital will conduct its vaccination at the gymnasium of the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, he said.
He said not all of the 3,138 target recipients have so far signified to get the vaccines but they are hoping to convince them once the vaccination starts.
“We can still give them the vaccines if they change their minds after one day, two days or even after a week,” he said.
Oco said they will start the vaccination on Monday, simultaneous with other parts of the region, according to an advisory issued on Friday night by the DOH-12.
She said all six vaccination sites have completed their simulation exercises and finalized their contingency preparations.
During the simulation, she said they were able to deliver the vaccines from the cold storage to the sites in just two minutes, cutting time frame by half based on the initial target of four minutes.
Oco said the vaccination process, including the screening and other related procedure, will take around 12 minutes per client.
“We’re targeting to vaccinate 16 individuals per hour and complete the inoculation within seven days,” she said.
She reiterated that the vaccination will not be mandatory and everyone has the option whether to get them or not.
But Oco said they are continually encouraging all the target health workers to accept the CoronaVac vaccines, which she guaranteed as safe and effective against COVID-19.
She said studies showed that the vaccine provides 50 percent protection from having symptoms of the disease and 100 percent from developing into a severe case.
“That’s a huge benefit for those directly handling our patients and our health care system as a whole,” she said.
Mayor Rivera said the arrival of the vaccines and the vaccination of local health workers is a “game changer” for the city.
“It’s a major step towards our hope that we can already go back to normal activities soon as well as our target to fully reopen our economy,” he said.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of North Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat and the cities of Kidapawan, General Santos, Koronadal and Tacurong.
As of Friday night, Region 12 recorded a total of 5,673 cases, 325 of them active, 204 deaths and 5,142 recoveries
General Santos City recorded the highest in the region with 2,021 cases, 120 of these active, 78 deaths and 1,823 recoveries.
South Cotabato posted the highest number among the four provinces with 1,628 cases, 96 of these active, 46 deaths and 1,486 recoveries.
North Cotabato logged 882 cases, 74 of these active, 45 deaths and 761 recoveries.
Sultan Kudarat posted 580 cases, 16 active, 17 deaths and 547 recoveries while Sarangani recorded 562 cases, 19 active, 18 deaths and 525 recoveries.
In General Santos City, the 120 active patients, mostly with mild symptoms and asymptomatic, are currently undergoing observation and treatment in seven local hospitals and two temporary isolation units. (MindaNews)