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Home Health Two Bacoleño nurses among the first to get COVID vaccines in US...

Two Bacoleño nurses among the first to get COVID vaccines in US and UK

BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Two medical frontliners from this urban capital of the country’s Sugar Bowl were among the first to receive CoViD19 vaccines during the early rounds of vaccinations in the United States and United Kingdom.

“I did it to protect myself at work as a frontliner, as well as to protect my family and the community,” Enrique Dondonay told DNX in an electronic interview from California in the United States.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, COVID survivor Grenada Mae Panibawan also got herself vaccinated mid December last year.

Panibawan, a graduate of Riverside College-Bacolod’s nursing school, was infected with COVID last year in Royal Surrey County in the United Kingdom.

Grenda Mae Panibawan. | Photo from FB profile.
Grenda Mae Panibawan. | Photo from FB profile.

She recovered at home after she opted to not have herself confined in the hospital.

Hospital management had recently promoted Grenda to the position of respiratory nurse specialist of the Royal Surrey NHS Hospital where she had been working for years.

Grenda told DNX she is the first Asian nurse hospital management had appointed to the position.

Dondonay, meanwhile, now works at the UCLA Medical Center, one of the top five medical facilities in the United States after starting his career at the Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center in 2002.

Dondonay said when COVID cases spiked in the Los Angeles area mid November last year, most of the intensive care rooms in hospitals were “almost full,” a situation he has witnessed that made him see “the grave situation of my patients.”

Enrique Dondonay.
Enrique Dondonay.

“I decided to take the vaccine after witnessing the effects of the disease to my patients,” he said.

He admitted that while it can be “scary to place your trust on this newly-developed vaccine, the science shows the benefits definitely outweigh the risks,” the Bacolod nurse said.

He pointed out months of diligent testings and trials have made him “confident with the positive benefits of this vaccine to keep infected people from becoming gravely ill or even from dying after contracting the virus,” the La Salle-Bacolod High School graduate said.

Doctors injected him with a vaccine that was tested to have a 90 percent efficacy.

Dondonay said he did not experience any adverse effects in the first 12 hours after he was vaccinated.

The next day, “effects were more noticeable like : arm soreness, low grade fever, and some body malaise; a couple of Tylenol pills helped alleviate the symptoms.”

He was even able “to come back for the 2nd shot after 21 days to get the maximum protection.”

“I did it to protect myself at work as a frontliner, as well as to protect my family and the community. After the vaccination, it is still adviced to continue wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequent hand washing,” the Bacolod native said.

Dondonay is the father of tennis player Justine, the first Filipina to enter the prestigious West Point military academy as an athletic scholar.

Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.

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