VACCINATIONS have slowed down as many eligible vaccinees wait for their preferred brands, instead of the widely available Sinovac vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In Cebu’s western town of Asturias, Mayor Antonio Pintor on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, said he was worried that 90 doses of the Sinovac vaccine would expire because some of his constituents would rather get Pfizer or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
Visayas Vaccination Operation Center (VVOC) spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said, however, that the Sinovac vaccines sent to Asturias will expire in 2024 yet.
She said 525 doses were allocated for Asturias. Of these, 325 were sent to the town while 200 were still in the cold chain facility of the Provincial Health Office, Loreche added.
The vaccine that will expire by the end of September is AstraZeneca, but Asturias did not get this brand.
Pintor said inoculations with the Sinovac vaccine in his town have slowed down. Only 30 received the vaccine on Sept. 13. The number dwindled to 10 on Sept. 14.
“Vaccinations have slowed down. People look for certain brands. When we had Pfizer and Janssen, a lot of people got vaccinated. But take-up is slow with Sinovac. The people don’t want to get it. I’m worried that the Sinovac vaccines would expire,” Pintor said.
He recalled that when they had a delivery of the Janssen vaccine, some residents went to his residence to ask that they be included in the list of recipients.
The same concern was noted in Mandaue City, where only 3,867 out of 25,000 target inoculations were made in the week from Sept. 6 to 12.
Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes on Friday urged residents not to be picky, saying the best vaccine is the one that’s available.
He said some residents express preference for other brands while some are afraid of getting the Sinovac vaccine.
Cortes echoed assurances made by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Health (DOH) officials that all vaccines are safe, and can prevent severe Covid-19 and death.
He noted that most of the patients who developed severe Covid-19 and died were unvaccinated. Mandaue’s Emergency Operations Center reported in August 2021 that around 90 percent, or nine out of 10, Covid-19 patients were unvaccinated.
Cortes urged his constituents to not focus on the reported side effects of each vaccine.
In Asturias, Pintor said he plans to group the barangays into clusters and conduct mobile vaccinations for each cluster.
He also plans to give incentives to entice more people to receive the vaccine. Those who will show up for the first dose will receive five kilos of rice, while those who will return for their second dose will get canned goods.
“Some don’t come back for their second dose, no matter how we try to convince them that getting vaccinated is the only way to stop Covid because there is no cure yet,” Pintor said.
Pintor said he will get the funds for this initiative from the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. He has also coordinated with the Rural Health Unit regarding a plan to take out a loan for the procurement of sacks of rice.
The Asturias Municipal Government has also strengthened its Covid-19 information campaign to debunk misinformation and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The town targets to vaccinate 30,000 residents. As of Friday, Pintor said the vaccinated individuals have not reached even 10 percent of this target.
As of September 16, Asturias has recorded a total of 294 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which 39 are active cases, 224 have recovered and 31 have died. (MVE, KFD, LMY)