BACOLOD—The president of the Negros Occidental Medical Society and the president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases- Negros Occidental Chapter and four other medical practitioners were the first in Bacolod to be vaccinated with CoronaVac- the vaccine of Chinese company Sinovac – at the Bacolod City Government Center on Friday.
“This is historic! This is the first vaccine to arrive in Bacolod. Let it be part of history that the first vaccination in Western Visayas happened in Bacolod City, as the first COVID-19 case in Western Visayas was also recorded in Bacolod City. This makes today’s event more significant and meaningful,” Mayor Evelio Leonardia said.
The mayor added: “Let it be put on record that like the others who were also clobbered by COVID-19, during those rough times, Bacolod was also one of the first to recover.”
The next vaccination rollout is on Monday, where among the recipients are medical and health workers of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital and Dr. Pablo O. Torre Memorial Hospital (Riverside Medical Center).
Leonardia, during an interview Friday, said he will surely get vaccinated but will consider the vaccine age restrictions.
OIC-City Health Officer Dr. Edwin Miraflor said, “CoronaVac can only be used for individuals 18 to 59 years old, without comorbidities.” Leonardia stressed that the five medical doctors who received the Sinovac vaccines today are prominent doctors in the city.
“Our leading and prominent doctors have now been vaccinated. These are the people who understand what this is all about. These are the people who can comprehend the consequences of a vaccine and yet, they are here as guiding examples for us to follow,” the mayor added.
Those who received the Sinovac vaccines were Dr. Miguel Sarabia, ophthalmologist and president of Negros Occidental Medical Society, and his wife, Valerie Villarosa-Sarabia, a nurse. They are the first couple from Bacolod to have received the Sinovac vaccines.
Other doctors who received the Sinovac vaccines were Dr. Hector Gayares Jr., chief executive officer of the Adventist International Healthcare System Philippines, and deputy medical volunteer at the Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center and the one who conceptualized the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC); Dr. Dolores Rommela Tiples-Ruiz, infectious diseases specialist and president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases – Negros Occidental Chapter; Dr. Radela Yvonne Ramos- Cortes, allergologist (Internal Medicine, Allergy, and Immunology); and Dr. Carlos Javier Primicias Jr., a pediatrician.
The vaccinators were OIC-City Health Officer Dr. Edwin Miraflor, Dr. Rosalie Deocampo, Dr. Claire Capiral, Dr. Grace Tan, Dr. Nica Locsin, and Ben Arnel Dela Cruz of DOH-6.
Leonardia added: “This is a giant leap for our intention and ambition to get our desired number of people to be vaccinated here in Bacolod.” Dr. Sarabia said, “I’m a front-liner and I see patients everyday which is why I cannot guarantee safety for my patients all the time so I got myself vaccinated.”
“Vaccines have been around for many years, we have stopped many diseases. It has made the world a better place to live in. I am glad that I am one of the people to receive this gift of life. May all the Bacolodnons also get vaccinated,” Sarabia added.
Before the vaccine rollout, officials of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the COVID-19 Vaccination Council (CoVac) received the 6,300 doses of Sinovac vaccines upon its arrival at the Bacolod-Silay Airport Friday around 9:00 a.m.
This was the first vaccine against COVID-19 to arrive in Bacolod, and was part of the 600,000 initial doses donated by China to the Philippine government.
EOC officials who received the shipment at the airport were Executive Director Em Ang, Deputy Medical Dr. Chris Sorongon, OIC-City Health Officer Dr. Edwin Miraflor, and Ben Arnel dela Cruz of the Department of Health (DOH-6).
From the airport, the vaccines were brought immediately to the Bacolod City Government Center, where six medical practitioners received the first rollout of the vaccines.
The remaining vaccines are set up in a cold storage facility at the Annex Building of the Bacolod City Government Center.
At the Government Center, the vaccination rollout observed the standard procedure, according to Sorongon. There were areas for registration, screening, counseling and consent, vaccination, monitoring, and post-vaccination.
Witnessing the vaccine rollout were Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, Councilors Cindy Rojas, Renecito Novero, Israel Salanga, Bartolome Orola, and Ayesha Joy Villaflor; City Administrator Em Ang, and EOC deputies for medical Dr. Chris Sorongon and Dr. Anna Maria Laarni Pornan; Dr. Grace Tan of the CHO- City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, Dr. Claire Capiral, and EOC Data Collection head Edrian Robete.
Leonardia also disclosed that Councilors Rojas, Salanga, Villaflor, and Lady Gles Pallen have expressed their willingness to undergo vaccination to help inspire acceptance of the vaccines by the general public.
However, upon consultation by Leonardia with Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the NIATF Against COVID-19, the vaccine czar told the mayor that “the vaccines are still limited” thus “let us dedicate the vaccines to our healthcare workers.”
Sinovac vaccine is the third COVID-19 vaccine brand approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use, after Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.
Meanwhile, Bacolod City has allocated P300 million for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccines. It has secured 650,000 doses from AstraZeneca which is good for 325,000 people, with 2 doses per person.
The City has also made an initial payment of P31 million to AstraZeneca. The vaccines are expected to arrive in the third quarter of this year.*