Members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) of Bacolod clarified that they did not back out from getting shots of CoronaVac – the vaccine developed by Sinovac – as their withdrawal during Friday’s [March 5] vaccine rollout was only to heed the instruction of vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez.
The clarification was issued to ward off some “malicious” speculations made after the councilors did not get vaccinated during the ceremonial affair, which primarily marked the arrival of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccines in Bacolod City, a press release from the Bacolod City PIO said.
“We were not just there to witness the rollout. We were ready to get vaccinated and already committed ourselves during our CoVaC meeting last Wednesday [March 3],” said Councilor Cindy Rojas.
Rojas – along with her co-councilors Israel Salanga, Lady Gles Pallen, and Ayesha Joy Villaflor – had earlier expressed their willingness to be the first to be inoculated with the China-made COVID-19 vaccine.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia, weighing in on the issue, said that vaccine czar Secretary Galvez informed him that medical frontliners should be prioritized for vaccination.
“Vaccines are still limited. Let us dedicate the vaccines to our health care workers. Active hospital frontliners muna po tayo. No councilors, Sir,” read Galvez’s text message to the mayor.
Leonardia consulted Galvez after the latter questioned the propriety of a congresswoman getting vaccinated first despite her not being a medical frontliner.
“The city officials are not in the DOH priority list. That is why inspite of their willingness and excitement, the councilors were accordingly advised otherwise. It is not true at all that they retreated or changed their minds. They simply agreed to wait for the right time,” said Leonardia.
Despite this, history was still made in Bacolod as six medical frontliners – five doctors and one nurse – were vaccinated Friday.
This was also the first Covid-19 vaccination in Western Visayas.
Held at the Bacolod City Government Center, the ceremony saw the vaccination of Dr. Miguel Sarabia, president of the Negros Occidental Medical Society; Dr. Hector Gayares Jr., chief executive officer of the Adventist International Healthcare System Philippines; Dr. Dolores Rommela Tiples-Ruiz, president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Negros Occidental; Dr. Radela Yvonne Ramos-Cortes, an allergy expert; Dr. Carlos Javier Primicias Jr., a pediatrician; and nurse Valerie Villarosa-Sarabia, wife of Dr. Sarabia.
“Vaccines have been around for many years. We have stopped many diseases. It has made the world a better place to live in. I am glad that I am one of the people to receive this gift of life. May all the Bacolodnons also get vaccinated,” Dr. Sarabia said.
The initial doses received by the medical frontliners were part of around 6,300 CoronaVac vials allocated by the Department of Health to two hospitals in Bacolod City.
The five medical doctors who received the Sinovac vaccines are prominent doctors in the city, according to Leonardia.
“We are fortunate in Bacolod that the medical profession is giving us this unconditional and full cooperation,” the mayor added.
For his part, Leonardia said he will get vaccinated at the right time after considering existing guidelines.
“Sinovac can only be used for individuals 18 to 59 years old, without comorbidities,” said OIC-City Health Officer Dr. Edwin Miraflor.*/CITY PIO