VACCINES FOR MEDICAL WORKERS. Officials of the Department of Health in Region 10 receive the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines on Thursday at the tarmac of Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental. Northern Mindanao region has initially been allocated 17,400 doses of the vaccines donated by the Chinese government. (Photo courtesy of PCOO-OGMA)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Department of Health in Northern Mindanao (DOH-10) received Thursday at least 17,400 vials of Sinovac vaccines.

Dr. Ellenietta N. Gamolo, DOH-10 officer-in-charge director, said the vaccines were immediately brought to the DOH-10 warehouse for accounting, checking, and cold chain management from the Laguindingan Airport shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday.

“We will be following the prioritization framework, to start with Covid-19 dedicated hospitals such as Level 3 public hospitals particularly NMMC (state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center), then Level 3 private hospitals, then Level 2 government hospitals, and level 2 private hospitals,” Gamolo said.

The Sinovac vaccine has been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is considered safe and effective, she pointed out.

“We urge everyone who is part of the priority group for this vaccination to get vaccinated. For those who are not yet a priority for the vaccine, please continue practicing the BIDA Plus Solusyon,” Gamolo said.

Meanwhile, NMMC health workers and staff would be the first to be inoculated on Friday.

Dr. Bernard Julius Rocha, NMMC's liaison officer, said that out of the hospital's 1,700 medical workers, at least 1,300 have agreed to be vaccinated, based on a recent internal survey.

Rocha said medical front-liners manning patient care centers would also be given priority. The plan was to get at least 80 percent inside NMMC's workforce to receive the vaccine, he added

Gamolo said the persons expected to receive the first doses are based on the prioritization group set by the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG), and first on the prioritization list are the Level 3 DOH hospitals, such as the NMMC.

The DOH-10 official also assured that the Sinovac vaccines are "safe and effective to use."

"We urge everyone who is part of the priority group for this vaccination to please get yourself vaccinated with whatever brand that is available for us because our Philippine government would not be giving us a vaccine that is not safe and not effective at all,” Gamolo said. (PNA)