Arjohn Gangoso, health education and promotion officer of the Department of Health-Region 12 (PNA GenSan photo

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Nearly 9,000 health care workers in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) are considered eligible for the upcoming initial round of vaccination for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) using the Sinovac-manufactured CoronaVac vaccines donated by China.

Arjohn Gangoso, health education and promotion officer of the Department of Health (DOH) 12, said Wednesday the target individuals are all workers of 23 Covid-19 referral hospitals in the region who were identified as priorities for the vaccine rollout.

Gangoso said they have been waiting for the final schedule of the delivery of the CoronaVac vaccines, within the week.

A team from the DOH-12 is assessing the readiness of the referral hospitals in conducting the vaccination, he said.

“We will immediately start the inoculation once the vaccines arrive,” Gangoso said in a briefing for government communicators and information officers in Koronadal City.

The vaccines, he said, would be delivered directly to the DOH-12 office in Cotabato City, which has a standby cold storage facility, and transferred later on to the provinces and cities in preparation for their distribution to the Covid-19 referral hospitals.

The 23 referral facilities include private, local government-support as well as DOH-run and retained hospitals in the area, among them the Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City and the Cotabato Sanitarium in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Gangoso said workers of the referral hospitals were identified as top priority due to their high-risk exposure to the virus.

Citing their records as of March 1, he said a total of 8,705 health workers from the referral hospitals were identified in the master list as eligible to get the vaccines.

However, he said, they expect the number to increase as some health workers were not included in the initial list.

Gangoso reiterated that the vaccination would be voluntary and the eligible health workers would be required to signify formally if they want to be included in the upcoming rollout.

He acknowledged that some health workers are still hesitant to get the CoronaVac vaccine but the majority has signified to be vaccinated. (PNA)