A total 756 Filipinos received shots of Covid-19 vaccine on the first day of the country’s immunization program, which Malacañang and the Department of Health (DoH) described as “successful” and “quite satisfactory” on Tuesday.
Of these, 353 recipients were from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, 128 from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), 110 from the Philippine National Police General Hospital, and 85 from Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (Tala Hospital) in Caloocan.
Sixty individuals also received vaccine shots at Victoriano Luna Medical Center, while 20 people were inoculated at Lung Center of the Philippines.
The country rolled out its vaccination drive on Monday in six hospitals using the Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm Biotech which were donated by the Chinese government and shipped to the Philippines over the weekend.
Frontline medical workers and a handful of officials received the first shots.
“The Day 1 of our vaccination program was very successful and everyone rejoiced… Our frontliners were elated and they had peace of mind because now they have protection against the Covid-19 virus,” presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said in his televised briefing.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, in a separate interview, also said “there were much pride and joy” during what he called a “historic” event.
“Yesterday’s rollout was quite satisfactory and there were much pride and joy in seeing that at long last, the health care workers had started to receive their vaccination, protection against Covid-19. It was really quite heartwarming to witness the historic event,” he told ANC.
Duque, although present at different ceremonies on Monday, did not receive the vaccine as he was 64 years old.
The emergency use authorization granted to the Sinovac vaccine states that it can only be administered to those aged 18 to 59.
All vaccine recipients were fine after receiving the Sinovac vaccine, except for 20 individuals who experienced “minor and common” side effects.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 20 vaccine recipients suffered headaches, nausea, rashes, muscle pain, and high blood pressure.
The official assured the public that these are common among vaccine takers and that no one was hospitalized.
“When we look into it, these are minor adverse effects that should not cause worry among the public,” she said in a televised briefing.
“All of them were monitored. Afterward, they went home and no one was admitted in hospitals,” Vergeire added.
The DoH official also said their adverse effects could be attributed to their anxiety and fear prior to their inoculation.
Meanwhile, Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Eric Domingo, who was among vaccine recipients at the PGH on Monday, said he was fine.
“I feel well, I feel asymptomatic,” Domingo said in an interview with CNN.
PGH director Dr. Gerardo Dizon Legaspi, who was the first to legally receive the Sinovac shot in the country, also said he “feels good except for a little soreness on my left shoulder.”
“Otherwise, it was a regular day for me when I got home,” he told ABS-CBN.
Meanwhile, Dr. Eileen Aniceto, manager of the Lung Center of the Philippines’ emergency medicine and outpatient department who received the Chinese vaccine administered by Duque, said Tuesday she was “perfectly fine.”
She also urged her colleagues to get vaccinated and not wait for the “best” vaccine.
“We all need to remember that all of the vaccines have equal protection capabilities against severe disease, against dying from Covid-19,” Aniceto told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
Some 200 frontliners of the Lung Center of the Philippines have lined up to receive CoronaVac and more have expressed willingness to receive it, Aniceto said.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 vaccination also started at Amang Rodriguez Medical Center, Pasay City General Hospital, Taguig-Pateros District Hospital, and Sta. Ana Hospital on Tuesday.
Sinovac’s vaccine doses were also administered at Philippine Air Force General Hospital, Manila Naval Hospital, Army General Hospital, and Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo Station Hospital.
On Wednesday, shots would also be distributed at St. Luke’s Medical Center.
Covid-19 inoculations outside Metro Manila are also set to begin this week as Sinovac’s CoronaVac doses arrived in Cebu and Davao on Tuesday morning.
Some 7,200 doses were delivered at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City where nearly 2,000 medical frontliners will be inoculated.
Davao’s Center for Health Development received 12,000 vials.
DoH-Davao Region director Dr. Annabelle Yumang said about 8,000 health workers in Davao City and Tagum City will receive their first shots starting Friday at the Southern Philippines Medical Center.