ANTI-COVID VACCINES: Personnel from the local office of the Department of Health (DOH) headed by Dr. Peter Curameng (wearing jacket with green sleeves, extreme right) and Jeremias Alili (back turned, wearing EOC vest) head of the Palawan provincial government's PDRRMO and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) against COVID-19 welcome the arrival on March 5, 2021, of the Sinovac vaccines that were transported to Puerto Princesa City by a Philippine Air Force (PAF) aircraft. | PN photo

A total of 5,260 anti-COVID vaccines arrived on Friday (March 5) at the Antonio Bautista Air Base (ABAB), a military airbase located in Barangay San Miguel in this city, marking the vaccination rollout in the province.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea escorted the delivery of the Sinovac jabs, who was also expected to be present on the start of the vaccination on Sunday, March 7.

Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez (3rd from left) welcomes Executive Sec. Salvador Midealdea (2nd from left) who escorted the transportation of the anti-COVID vaccines to Puerto Princesa City on March 5, 2021. Among others, also in photo are 3rd District Palawan Rep. Gil Acosta Jr. (1st from left), PPC Councilor Elgin Robert Damasco (4th from left in red polo shirt with jacket), and Western Command (WESCOM) commander Vice Adm. Ramil Roberto Enriquez (4th from right, in military uniform) . | PN photo

Palawan governor Jose Alvarez, who welcomed the Philippine Air Force (PAF) aircraft that carried the COVID-19 vaccines, said he is willing to be vaccinated first to boost the vaccine confidence among the locals, but pointed out that medical frontliners must be given priority.

“Anytime [willing ako mabakunahan] pero unahin muna natin ‘yong mga nurses, doctors, medtech,” Alvarez said.

Of the total vaccine allocations for Puerto Princesa and Palawan, 1,218 doses were earmarked for Ospital Ng Palawan (ONP), a primary COVID-19 referral hospital in the province; 450 for Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital located in the Calamian Islands Group; 702 for MMG-PPC Cooperative Hospital; 1,200 for Adventist Hospital Palawan (AHP), and 1,690 for the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

The number of vaccines that arrived was more than the expected amount of 4,800 as previously announced by Baquilod. Provincial Health Office (PHO) chief Dr. Erika Faye Labrador stated that she was unaware of why the change came about.

“‘Hindi na namin hawak ‘yon, sa region kasi ‘yon,” Dr. Labrador told Palawan News.

She added that the Roxas Medicare Hospital and the Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital would be the first hospitals in the municipalities to receive the newly-arrived vaccines.

“Sila kasi ang aming mga COVID referral hospitals,” Dr. Labrador added.

Dr. Mario Baquilod, regional director of the Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA, said the prioritization was based on the number of patients received by the COVID-19 referral hospital and Level 2 hospitals that were present in the region.

Palawan, with a total of 5,260 doses, received the largest share in vaccine allocation in MIMAROPA with only 10,000 jabs for the entire region.

In MIMAROPA, Oriental Mindoro received early Friday 2,640 doses; 750 for Occidental Mindoro; 750 for Romblon; and 600 for Marinduque. (with reports from Romar Miranda, Aira Genesa Magdayao, and Patricia Laririt)