ALMOST 2,500 healthcare workers at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) are willing to be vaccinated against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7) spokesperson Mary Jean Loreche announced Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
She said the VSMMC, a tertiary government hospital in Cebu City, listed 2,987 healthcare workers as priority recipients of the vaccine.
Of this number, 2,480 have agreed to be inoculated.
Loreche did not cite any reason for the refusal of the remaining 507 medical frontliners.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are expected to arrive in Cebu City either on Feb. 15 or in the last week of February, Loreche said.
She did not specify the number of doses allocated for Cebu City.
Cebu City, together with Metro Manila and Davao City, were given top priority in the rollout of the vaccines in the country because of increasing cases of coronavirus infection.
Loreche said they have started conducting seminars on the implementation of the national Covid-19 vaccination program.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the Philippines will get 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through the Covax initiative, a facility aimed at accelerating vaccine manufacturing and promoting vaccine equity globally.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is administered in two doses 28 days apart. Based on the results of its phase 3 clinical trials, the vaccine is 95 percent efficacious against Covid-19.
Loreche said, however, that it’s not a guarantee that an individual will no longer contract Covid-19.
Cebu City cases
Meanwhile, she said it’s still too early to blame the rise in infections in Cebu on the B.1.1.7 or United Kingdom (UK) variant.
Regardless, she said people should continue to comply with the minimum public health standards and quarantine protocols. A virus has the opportunity to mutate every time it is transmitted.
“People have forgotten that we need to really have that close adherence to the public health protocols because there is no medicine for this,” she said.
The new variants detected in the UK and South Africa were reported to be more contagious.
Aside from strict compliance to health safety protocols, Loreche also said they will revisit testing policies if more new variant cases are found.
She also said the DOH 7 was amenable to suggestions to use two face masks and stressed the need to wear face shields.
As of Feb. 8, the active cases in Cebu City went up to 2,218, including 151 new infections. The Covid-19 death toll remained at 706 as no additional deaths were reported. There were 29 new recoveries, pushing the total to 10,701.
The active cases in Cebu City comprise around half of the 4,465 active cases in Central Visayas, the DOH 7 case bulletin showed.
Cumulative cases in the region since the start of the pandemic increased to 31,019 as of Feb. 8, including 1,493 deaths, 25,061 recoveries and 4,465 active cases.
At the Cebu City Health Department (CHD), officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones said they were focusing on an education and information drive to convince the public to get vaccinated not only against Covid-19 but also against other preventable diseases.
He admitted, however, that this is difficult to achieve because of the Dengvaxia controversy. Dengvaxia is a vaccine against dengue fever, which was found in 2018 to cause severe illness in individuals who have not contracted the dengue virus.
Ibones said audio-visual materials explaining the vaccination process and benefits of the vaccines will soon be available in barangay health centers and government offices.
He also said they were drawing up a micro vaccination plan for Cebu City based on the national roadmap.
During the regular session of the Cebu City Council on Feb. 3, 2021, National Task Force Against Covid-19 deputy implementer for the Visayas Melquiades Feliciano said different clusters have been formed to be part of the vaccine operations center.
Ibones said the clusters included in the vaccine operations center have been meeting at the second floor of the old Sacred Heart School for Boys building, which is being eyed as the local vaccination operations center (VOC).
Ibones said his office has yet to coordinate with the DOH on the requirements for a command center for the vaccination program.
The Cebu City Government was given until Feb. 10 to submit its vaccination plan and activate all local VOCs.
Other local government units given the same deadline are Metro Manila and Davao City. (ANV / JJL)