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DOH reports 20 minor adverse reaction cases
At a press briefing yesterday morning, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted that 756 individuals were given their first dose of Sinovac vaccines last Monday.
AFP/Jonathan NACKSTRAND

DOH reports 20 minor adverse reaction cases

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — At least 20 persons have developed “adverse events” after receiving Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccines during the rollout of the country’s vaccination program last Monday, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

At a press briefing yesterday morning, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted that 756 individuals were given their first dose of Sinovac vaccines last Monday.

Vergeire said that as of 9 a.m. yesterday, a total of 20 persons have developed adverse events that are all “common and minor” symptoms, including pain in the arm or injection site, itchy skin or rashes, headache, nausea and increased blood pressure.

“All of them were observed, managed and after a while, they were all sent home,” she added.

As a protocol,  those injected are made to stay at a designated spot in the vaccination area so health authorities can observe them for possible effects. After the injected are sent home, they are instructed to observe themselves.

The government has committed to monitor the vaccinees for one year for adverse reactions as a result of their immunization.

Those who will develop adverse reactions shall be assisted in their medication or hospitalization.

Two Philippine National Police (PNP) members also experienced adverse side effects after they were inoculated with Sinovac vaccines last Monday.

One of the patients had rashes on his shoulder where the jab was administered, according to PNP deputy chief for administration Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar.

“The other felt dizzy because of inadequate sleep, but it disappeared quickly,” he said in a text message in FIlipino.

Eleazar added that the two have not shown other symptoms and are adjusting well to the vaccines.

The two were among the 125 PNP personnel, 113 police officers and 12 civilian employees inoculated with the vaccines last Monday.

A total of 804 PNP members were included in the list of recipients for the vaccines.

At least 11,372 police personnel have contracted COVID-19, with 31 fatalities, since last year.

Of the number, 10,897 or 95.82 percent of the patients have recovered. A total of 444 are still recuperating from the virus either in hospitals or quarantine facilities.

Public vaccination in May

The government is eyeing the month of May for the COVID-19 vaccination of the general public, the time within which around 5.2 million to 9.5 million doses of Pfizer’s and AstraZeneca’s doses are expected to arrive in the country.

“We are looking at the second quarter once vaccine doses from the COVAX facility arrive,” vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Galvez added that initial vaccine procurements from manufacturers Sinovac and Novavax, along with the private sector’s purchase of 2.6 million AstraZeneca shots, are also expected to arrive in the country in May.

The first three months of 2021 will solely be dedicated to the vaccination of medical frontliners, according to the vaccine czar.

He reiterated that the acute shortage in the global supply of COVID vaccines delayed the arrival of AstraZeneca shots in the country.

The government is targeting to inoculate 50 million to 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19 by the end of the year.

Jab at Sinovac critics

Meanwhile, at his regular press briefing at Malacañang yesterday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque yesterday asked COVID testing czar Vince Dizon if the latter now knows how to speak Mandarin since he has already received the Sinovac vaccine from China.

Dizon, who was in a remote video conferencing, merely smiled when Roque pressed on the issue by greeting him in Chinese.

“OK, Secretary Vince, good morning. Ni hao and how are you right now? Secretary Vince Dizon?” Roque said.

Dizon said he has not experienced any adverse effects a day after being inoculated, adding that he attended a number of rollout  activities in some local government units yesterday without any hitches.

Roque was taking a jab at critics, who have been ridiculing the Philippines’ choice of the vaccine brand from China. Several viral memes poked fun at the Chinese vaccines, saying that those inoculated will learn the Chinese language instantly.

The Palace spokesman was even the subject of criticisms after saying that Filipinos cannot choose their brand of vaccines.

Sinovac vaccines arrived in Manila last Sunday – ahead of other brands – after a long wait.

Galvez said the government is working on the acquisition of 161 million vaccine doses.

The vaccine czar also noted that confidence in the Sinovac vaccine has grown globally.

“The Chinese vaccines are gaining momentum in many developing countries. But we can still see there is still mistrust, still high on the Chinese vaccine. But we saw Hong Kong kick off the vaccination with a Sinovac jab, and also Hungary received five million doses of Sinopharm, becoming the first EU (European Union) country to roll out the vaccine,” he told Duterte during their meeting last Monday.

Galvez noted the problem on acquiring anti-COVID-19 vaccines all over the world.

“Now, global vaccine inequality is becoming a larger issue, so there is an increased pressure for rich countries to donate surplus supply as part of the global effort to combat COVID-19,” he said.

About 10 countries account for 75 percent of all vaccinations, although the EU and the United States called to commit three to five percent of vaccine supply to developing countries. Israel has committed to giving surplus to Palestine and Honduras, according to Galvez. – Emmanuel Tupas, Jose Rodel Clapano, Christina Mendez

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