First batch of Sinovac vaccines for BARMM health workers arrives

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 04 March) – A total of 4,200 jabs of the Sinovac vaccines for Covid-19 intended for health workers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) arrived Thursday.

The Chinese-manufactured vaccines arrived onboard a Philippine Airlines plane at the Awang Airport in this town, and were received by BARMM Acting Health Minister Dr. Ameril Usman, provincial health officials of Maguindanao, and UNICEF representatives.

BARMM health officials receive the Sinovac vaccines at Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

Usman said the vaccines will be distributed as follows: 1,400 for Maguindanao, 972 for Lanao del Sur, 278 for Basilan, 1,032 for Sulu, and 518 for Tawi-Tawi.

He said the vaccines that arrived can only accommodate 2,100 health workers, as each of them will receive two doses, the second to be administered 28 days after the first shot.

BARMM has around 20,000 health workers in its five provinces and the cities of Marawi in Lanao del Sur, Lamitan in Basilan and Cotabato, which has officially joined the region.

Usman said the vaccines for health workers in Cotabato City were included in the procurement for Region 12, the region where it previously belonged.

The vaccines for health workers in Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi were included in the delivery for Region 10 or Northern Mindanao.

Usman said the vaccination of health workers will start Friday at the Integrated Provincial Health Office in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

He assured Muslims that the Sinovac vaccines have been certified as halal by the Indonesian government.

But he clarified that health workers who would refuse to be vaccinated won’t be sanctioned.

“They are given the option that if they don’t want Sinovac, pwede sila sa ibang (they can try other) brands,” he said.

He said the vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Pfizer have no halal certifications yet, although the two companies claimed that their products have no pork derivatives. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)