CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 30 April) — The city governments of Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga on Thursday started vaccinating their senior citizens against COVID-19, among the first local governments to do so in Mindanao.
In Cagayan de Oro City, a thousand senior citizens including Mayor Oscar Moreno and former mayor Reuben Canoy, received their first dose of CoronaVac, the vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical Sinovac Biotecc, on Thursday.
Moreno received his jab at the J.R. Borja General Hospital here while Canoy, accompanied by his daughter, Rhona, got his at the Bulua Elementary school in Barangay Bulua.
Zamboanga City also started vaccinating 900 senior citizens on Thursday and Friday. Sheila Covarrubias, City Information Officer, told MindaNews the 900 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac allocated for the first batch of senior citizens to be vaccinated came from the “900 doses na sobra sa A1.”
In General Santos City, a total of 1,082 senior citizens were vaccinated as of April 23, according to Dr. Rochelle Oco, acting City Health Officer. The city has 28,138 senior citizens, 18,000 of whom have been pre-screened.
In Davao City, Dr. Ashley Lopez, acting City Health Officer told MindaNews they expect the next vaccine allocation by May 1. “Hopefully, vaccination for senior citizens will commence early May,” he said.
In Cagayan de Oro City, the city government designated three mass vaccination centers: J.R. Borja General Hospital, Bulua Elementary school in Barangay Bulua; and the SM Downtown Premier.
Maricel Casino-Rivera, Cagayan de Oro City Information officer, said city health officials were able to hit their target of vaccinating 1,000 senior citizens on Thursday. On Friday, 500 more citizens age 60 and beyond were scheduled for vaccination.
The city has 80,000 senior citizens. Those given the first dose of the vaccine on Thursday and Friday will have their second dose next month.
“This is your vaccination schedule”
Earlier this week, senior citizens listed for inoculation received notices via text message on their schedule.
“Greetings Higala (Friend). This is your vaccination schedule. Date: April 29, 2021 (Thursday). TIME: 11:00AM-12:00PM. Facility: J.R. Borja General Hospital,” the message from the Cagayan de Oro COVID-19 crisis center said. The same text message advised recipients to bring their valid ID and medical certificates.
Emiliano Galban, spokesperson of the Department of Health Region 10, said the DOH gave 1,500 doses to the city government for senior citizens classified under A2, after it successfully reached 85 percent performance in vaccinating the A1 group that included medical front liners and barangay health workers.
Mayor Moreno said he would ask the DOH in Manila to allot more vaccines for the city.
Sinovac’s CoronaVac was initially allowed only for residents under 60. But the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 7 allowed the use of CoronaVac for senior citizens, “provided there is stringent evaluation of the person’s health status and exposure risk.”
According to a press release of the DOH that day, the decision to allow the use of the vaccine for seniors came about upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology’s Vaccine Expert Panel, “and considering the limited availability of vaccines and the growing need to protect seniors amid the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.”
FDA Director General Eric Domingo said vaccination should be preceded by an evaluation of the person’s health status and exposure risk to assure that benefits of vaccination outweigh risks.”
The DOH and FDA further stressed that while current efficacy data for Senior Citizens from Phase III trials of CoronaVac is insufficient, “the benefits of using the vaccine for this particular group outweigh its risks, and more scientific data on use for senior citizens may soon become available.”(Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews with reports from Carolyn O. Arguillas and Rommel Rebollido)