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Gov't eyes finishing COVID-19 vaccination of over a million health workers in a month

The Philippine government is eyeing to give COVID-19 vaccines to at least 1.4 million health workers within a month, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said Monday.

“Pipilitin po natin na matapos [ang pagbabakuna sa] lahat ng health workers nationwide ngayong Marso,” Galvez said during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila. 

“Wala pong maiiwan, walang iwanan,” he added. 

The only available COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines so far is made by Sinovac which has been issued emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration last February 22.

Based on Philippine FDA evaluation, Sinovac has an efficacy rate of 65% to 91% among healthy individuals aged 18 to 59. 

The Philippine FDA, however, recommended against the use of Sinovac on health workers since its efficacy rate only reached 50.4% on that group.

The Department of Health (DOH) and the vaccine experts panel (VEP) eventually recommended use of Sinovac on health workers, saying it will be beneficial and safe for them. 

Based on data reviewed by the DOH and VEP, Sinovac's efficacy rate against moderate COVID-19 symptoms is 78% and 100% against severe COVID-19 symptoms. 

University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi on Monday became the Philippines' first official recipient of a vaccine against COVID-19. 

Galvez, however, conceded that Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among health workers would take time.

“Sa initial natin, nakita natin na more or less, out of 1.7 million na ating health workers ay more or less, 200 to 300 lang ang medyo [may] possibility na sila ang kumuha ng Sinovac. But sa ngayon ay hindi natin masasabi,” Galvez said.

“Let’s wait for siguro mga two to three days, makikita po natin kung tataas pa po iyon,” he added.

Galvez reminded the public that getting the available COVID-19 vaccine at the soonest possible time was the best step to take amid the pandemic.

“Moral obligation po ng na dapat lahat tayo ay magpabakuna. Hindi po tayo makakabalik sa dati nating buhay kung hindi po tayo magpapabakuna," Galvez said.

"Huwag na natin antayin ‘yung best vaccine because there is no such [thing as] best vaccine. Ang best vaccine ay iyong effective na dumating na,” he added. —KG, GMA News