Vaccine rollout ‘only for medical frontliners’

·3 min read

THE Department of Health (DOH) 7 still doesn’t have enough vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to start inoculating senior citizens, the next sector on the government’s priority list. Its available stock is only for medical frontliners.

The DOH 7 issued the clarification after senior citizens showed up at a mass inoculation in one of Cebu City’s commercial malls on Thursday, April 15, 2021, expecting to be vaccinated only to be refused.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said that as of Thursday, they only had 178,560 doses of Sinovac available, 44,400 of which arrived in Cebu on Wednesday, April 14.

Loreche said there are 131,781 eligible medical frontliners who have yet to be vaccinated. The existing 178,560 doses cannot even cover them all since two doses are needed, she said.

They can only inject senior citizens when there are vaccines available after medical rontliners turned down the offer to be vaccinated, which

is why senior citizens like Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and other eligible bishops have already been vaccinated.

She said a vaccination site can proceed to the next priority list as long as it has finished vaccinating members of the A1 priority group.

On Friday, April 16, the Project Balik Buhay (PBB) will vaccinate 600 individuals from the private sector who are included in the A1 (medical frontliners), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with comorbidities) priority list.

Loreche said the vaccination will take place in Chong Hua Hospital in Mandaue City, Cebu Doctors’ Hospital in Cebu City and Allegiant Regional Care Hospital in Lapu-Lapu City.

She said the 600 individuals are from companies that submitted their master list that was later approved by the DOH 7 and their local government unit (LGU).

Meanwhile, the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) reported that only 60 percent of the employee population of companies in Mandaue City are willing to get vaccinated.

The rest are still hesitant because they are afraid of the perceived side effects, while a small number worry about the vaccine brand.

“Mandaue City companies have the most number of employees registered with PBB. And this is still increasing. Vaccine hesitancy has gone down to 40

percent per survey of MCCI, but this is still high,” said Steven Yu, MCCI president.

The survey results came from 63 companies that responded during the March 18-April 7 survey period.

Yu said the companies are intensifying vaccine awareness to help reduce vaccine hesitancy.

“We can only attain herd immunity if a certain percentage of the population is vaccinated. Our economy will not recover well if herd immunity is not achieved,” he said.

He said more than 13,000 employees from Mandaue City-based companies are registered with PBB as of this writing.

The number represents the highest employee population registered with PBB among the different cities and municipalities in Cebu, Yu said.

The MCCI said the earlier public and private stakeholders fully vaccinate the majority of the population, the better it is for livelihood, businesses and economy.

Vaccine acquisitions by the private sector will complement, if not supplement, vaccines from the government, as there are new developments related to the efficacy period of the vaccines which some medical experts say may be below nine months.

“So in a way, the more vaccines, the better it is for us. The timeline of the delivery of the vaccines for the private sector stays the same for now, which is the third to fourth quarter of this year. We would like to encourage everyone to get vaccinated either through the PBB or their respective LGUs/barangays as soon as possible,” Yu said.

The PBB is calling on companies to register before its April 30 deadline. (KFD/JOB)