Malacañang said the Philippines is now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as the country rolled out its vaccination program against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Monday, March 1.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement as the government Philippines finally started vaccinating healthcare workers against COVID-19 at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila.
In his speech, Roque pointed out that March 1, 2021, was a historic day for the Philippines.
“Ang gagawin po natin dito sa PGH at iba pang pampublikong hospital dito sa Metro Manila ay pagsimula po ng pag-asa na matapos po ang halos isang taon ng kadiliman dahil sa COVID-19, narito na po ang liwanang (What we will be doing here at the PGH and other public hospitals in Metro Manila is the start of our hope that after almost one year of darkness due to COVID-19, here comes the light),” he said.
Roque thanked health workers for their sacrifices throughout the pandemic and pointed out that they are the real heroes during this crisis.
“Nagpapasalamat din po ako sa ngalan po ng Presidente natin at ng sambayanang Pilipino sa lahat ng medical frontliners kayo po ang tunay na bayani sa panahon ng COVID-19 (On behalf of the President and the Filipino people, we thank the medical frontliners. You are the real heroes during this pandemic),” he said.
“At dahil kayo po ang ating tunay na bayani, tama lang po na kayo po ang mauna sa COVID-19 [vaccine]. Ito po ay pagpapakita ng aming pasasalamat at utang na loob (And since you are our true heroes, it’s only appropriate that you are vaccinated first. This is our way of showing gratitude to our healthcare workers),” he added.
The Philippines rolled out the vaccination program with the CoronaVac vaccine manufactured by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac. The first to be vaccinated was PGH director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi on Monday morning.
The Chinese government has donated 600,000 doses of CoronaVac after an emergency use authorization (EUA) was issued to Sinovac by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week. The EUA, however, did not recommend the Sinovac vaccine to be administered to healthcare workers and senior citizens.
Healthcare workers have expressed their misgivings about the CoronaVac, noting the 50.4-percent efficacy rate for medical frontliners. President Duterte assured health workers that they are free to wait for their preferred vaccine brand without them losing their priority status.
The Philippines is set to receive 525,600 doses of British-Swedish vaccine AstraZeneca from the COVAX Facility within the month.