Most hospital personnel from the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP), the province’s main COVID-19 facility, have opted to defer to be vaccinated with Sinovac vaccines and took on a “wait and see” attitude, as the province began its vaccination program initially targeting medical frontliners.
Hospital officials said only 180 out of 698 ONP hospital employees have signed up to avail of the free COVID-19 vaccines as of Sunday, March 7.
ONP medical center chief Dr. Melecio Dy, in an interview with Palawan News, observed that the sentiment among many was to await the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines which have already arrived in the country.
“Noong una, mas marami ang willing to be vaccinated. Noong nalaman nila na darating na ‘yong AstraZeneca, medyo may mga nag-backout and hindi naman natin mapilit kasi voluntary,” said Dr. Dy.
Dr. Dy, 58, was the first Palawan resident to be inoculated with Sinovac as the province rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination program, Dr. Dy received his Sinovac jab along with Dr. Emmanuel Alfaro Jr., 29, assistant chairman of the ONP emergency room department; and nurse Lilibeth Velasco, 36, unit head of the intensive care unit (ICU) department.
A total of 32 hospital staff, including seven doctors, 11 nurses, two medical technologists, one dentist, and 11 non-medical personnel, were vaccinated at the ONP.
Rommel Howard Iway, a non-medical staff, was among the few hospital personnel who did not hesitate to receive the free vaccine which is part of the 600,000 vials donated by China to the Philippines.
“Huwag tayong matakot magpabakuna dahil para ito sa ikabubuti nating lahat,” said Iway, 57, a development management officer at the ONP.
The ONP, being the primary COVID-19 referral hospital in the province, was allocated 1,218 doses from the 5,260 Sinovac jabs allotted by the Department of Health (DOH) for Palawan.
Security guards, clerks, other non-medical personnel, along with the medical frontliners of ONP were the priority individuals to receive the anti COVID-19 vaccine, as they were considered among the most vulnerable individuals when the pandemic broke out a year ago.
Dr. Dy said he remains confident that the number of hospital staffers to receive the vaccine would increase in a few days, citing reluctant employees’ “wait and see attitude”.
“Marami kasi sa atin ang may ‘wait and see attitude’. They would wanted to get ‘yong ibang mga bakuna. But eventually, marami na ring nagpapabakuna. There is no perfect vaccine, so if we have available vaccines, we should get it to prevent moderate to severe cases of COVID-19,” Dy added.
The vaccination rollout at the ONP would run until next week, and unused vials would be handed over to the City Health Office (CHO) of Puerto Princesa to be allocated for city frontliners working in the Incident Management Team (IMT), whose primary role was to welcome individuals from outside Palawan and conduct contact tracing for disease mitigation.
Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital (CSGH), where 450 doses had been allocated, also started its COVID-19 vaccination rollout on Sunday.
“Gamitin natin ang pagkakataong ito hindi lang para sa sarili natin, kundi sa pamilya at komunidad natin,” said CSGH medical chief Dr. Arturo Cunan Jr.
Roxas Medicare Hospital in northern Palawan and Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital sharing 1,260 doses from the Provincial Health Office (PHO); Adventist Hospital Palawan with 1,200; and MMG-PPC Cooperative Hospital with 702 doses are expected to follow suit on the vaccination campaign by Monday, March 8.
As of Sunday morning, there are only four remaining active COVID-19 cases in Puerto Princesa and Palawan, out of 615 reported cases, with six deaths and 605 recoveries.