GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 10 March) – The city government has ordered around 640,000 doses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines as it targets to start within the year the inoculation of its eligible population.
Dr. Rochelle Oco, acting head of the City Health Office, said the local government has sent letters of intent to at least two foreign drug companies for the purchase of their approved vaccines for the disease.
She said these efforts are being facilitated by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), in which City Mayor Ronnel Rivera sits as the national vice chairperson. The mayor is a member of the group’s committee on vaccine availment.
Oco said the city specifically ordered 160,000 vials each for the first dose and the same number for the second dose from British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and the American Novavax Inc.
The Food and Drug Administration has already issued an emergency use authorization for the AstraZeneca vaccine and is working on issuing the same for Novavax, which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
“This will cover roughly 300,000 eligible residents,” she said in the “question hour” during the city council’s regular session on Tuesday.
Mayor Rivera earlier announced that the local government has allocated around P200 million for the purchase of the vaccines and their rollout.
Oco said the vaccines alone will cost around P125 million based on the projection of the City Budget Office.
She said that based on the current global trend on the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines, the delivery could start by the third quarter of the year.
The official said the vaccines that will be purchased by the city will augment the supply that would be allotted by the national government, which has yet to release the specific figures.
Oco said they expect that the combined vaccine supplies would be enough to cover at least 70 percent of the area’s over 700,000 population to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.
Citing the DOH’s guidelines, she said the priority for the vaccination rollout will be the health care workers, senior citizens, indigent residents as well as military, police and other security and law enforcement personnel who aged 18 to 65.
The vaccination of the priority health care workers in the city started last Monday, March 8, using the Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.
A total of 3,138 medical professionals and staff members of six referral hospitals here for COVID-19 patients are eligible to get the vaccines until the end of the inoculation period on March 14. (MindaNews)