February 9, 2023

Frontline workers in the Cordillera described as a historic event the arrival of the first batch of anti-Covid-19 vaccines in Baguio City only a few days after two vaccine brands arrived in the country last week.
The country received 600,000 coronavirus vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. on Feb. 28 of which 7,280 were delivered as the Cordillera’s allocation night of March 4.
The first batch of vaccines developed by British-Swede firm AstraZeneca with 487,200 vaccines also arrived in the country March 4 from the Covax facility, the international partnership established to ensure equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world, and is expected for distribution to local government units.
The vaccine rollout in the Cordillera was led by the Department of Health-CAR at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, whose frontline workers led by hospital chief Dr. Ricardo Ruñez Jr. were the first in the region to receive the anti-Covid-19 shots.
DOH-CAR Director Dr. Ruby Constantino said the first batch of the Sinovac vaccines will be distributed to all government and private hospitals in the region, which have a total of 8,828 health workers.
She said they will ask for additional vaccines from the central office in the event that all those in the health workers’ list decide to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines we received, to be given in two doses, were initially intended for the five priority primary hospitals which have 3,608 health workers, but we were told that it will already be for all hospitals in the entire region. We will ask for additional vaccines, and we will wait for the next batch before the schedule of the second dose,” Constantino said.
She said they have not been advised yet about the region’s allocation of AztraZeneca vaccines, while those that were procured by the national and local government units are expected to arrive second or third quarter of the year.
Ruñez, who took the first dose of the vaccine and became the first in the Cordillera to get vaccinated along with five other BGHMC employees, got vaccinated in public on March 5 as a way of proving the vaccines are safe and of convincing the community to get vaccinated.
“This is a memorable day not only for the BGHMC but also for the entire Cordillera. This shows to the community and everybody that the vaccine is safe and so we wanted to take the lead in influencing and encouraging all the members of the community that this is the way that we can really conquer this pandemic,” Ruñez said, adding that getting the vaccine is the first step probably in getting back to normal life after one year of having the pandemic.
Constantino has thanked the frontliners especially of the BGHMC for their willingness to take the first available vaccine in the region. “We hope this helps minimize hesitancy towards Covid-19 vaccines, especially with Sinovac, and convince fellow health workers to follow their lead. Remember any form of protection will always be better than without protection at all,” she said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana