34 hospitals to get 1st batch of COVID vaccines


    PERSONNEL of 34 hospitals are set to receive the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines which will come from the COVAX Facility, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday.

    The first batch of 117,000 doses of vaccines from the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility is expected to arrive later this month.

    Vergeire said 32 of the 34 hospitals are in the National Capital Region (NCR) and one each in Cebu City and Davao City.

    All 34 hospitals, she said, have been directed to submit to the DOH the verified list of vaccinees and their quick substitution lists.

    One of the hospitals set to get the initial batch of vaccines of the Pfizer vaccines is the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.

    PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi said the state-owned tertiary hospital is ready to begin the vaccine rollout among its 6,316 personnel.

    “As far as the people are concerned, we are all set, I think, for whatever vaccine is coming,” said Legaspi.

    He said 94 percent of PGH personnel have registered for vaccination, significantly higher than the 74 percent who agreed to be immunized, based on an initial survey.

    Legaspi said this is even higher than the result of their initial survey, wherein only 74 percent have agreed to get immunized versus COVID-19.

    “It appears that there was increased confidence when it was revealed to be Pfizer vaccine. The acceptance rate went up,” he said.

    “I think there will be a lot who will be willing to take whatever vaccine that will come, based on the survey, and replace those that will change their minds,” he added.

    PGH is a COVID-19 referral hospital, like the Lung Center of the Philippines and East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City, and the Dr. Jose Natalio Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center in Caloocan City.

    Malacañang officials allayed concerns about the country’s access to vaccines amid the absence of signed supply agreements between the government and pharmaceutical firms, and the delay in the delivery of committed millions of doses of drugs.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the expected delay will be only for a week while Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government has already reserved and secured millions of doses of vaccine under “term sheets” signed with the manufacturers.

    Roque described the term sheets as a “perfected obligation” to supply vaccines to the country. The contract of sale will be signed once the supplies have been delivered.

    Some lawmakers expressed concerns about the lack of any finalized and signed supply agreement even after the government had claimed that it had secured 148 million doses of vaccines from different manufacturers under several term sheet agreements.

    Among the supply deals are negotiated with Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Novavax and Moderna.
    Roque expressed confidence the Philippines would be able to complete the 50 million to 70 million inoculation target for the year despite the delay in the delivery of first batch from COVAX.

    Pfizer, under the COVAX arrangement, was expected to deliver an initial 117,000 doses between the middle to last week of this month while AstraZeneca, also under COVAX, is expected to deliver at least 5.2 million doses for the first and second quarter of 2021.

    The arrangements with Pfizer and AstraZeneca under the COVAX Facility are separate from the millions of doses of vaccine vaccines bought by the national and local government and the private sector, which are due in the third to fourth quarter of 2021.

    Roque last week said 600,000 doses of vaccines from the Chinese private firm Sinovac, donated by China will arrived on February 23.

    The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) said it is preparing a benefit package for those who will suffer adverse events after immunization.

    PhilHealth president and CEO Dante Gierran said the board of the state insurer will deliberate on the matter on Thursday and one of the considerations is funding for the additional benefit package. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Raymond Africa