Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Wednesday admitted that she was hurt by the city health care workers’ hesitation in getting the Sinovac vaccine.
“Totoo po yung sinabi ni Dra. [Josephine] Sabando. Medyo masama ang loob ko sa inyo noong nakaraang linggo (Dra. Sabando was right when she told you that I was feeling hurt last week),” Belmonte said in her speech during the rollout of the country’s vaccination program at the Quezon City General Hospital (QCGH).
“Bakit po? Linggo-linggo po kaming nagme-meeting ng mga mayors ng Metro Manila, kasama ang DOH (Department of Health). At nagiging transparent naman yung DOH sa pagsabi nila sa amin na ito ang sitwasyon natin—na 90 percent ng lahat ng mga bakunang gusto nyo ay nakuha na ng mga first world countries. Ten percent na lang ang naiiwan for the rest of the world (Why? We’d been conducting meetings with Metro Manila mayors and the DOH. The DOH was very transparent in telling us that 90 percent of the supply of your chosen vaccine were already allotted to first world countries. Only 10 percent of them were left for the rest of the world),” she added.
Belmonte told reporters in an interview that she felt bad when she found out that no one from the hospital initially expressed willingness to get the vaccine “because it was Sinovac.”
But now, Belmonte said she is “grateful” that many have already turned out ready for inoculation after “study[ing] the scientific basis” of the vaccine.
“Ang sabi ko lang (What I told them), try to study it more. Study the scientific basis of the drug. See if it is effective and safe. Set aside your biases if it’s Chinese or not, because alam naman natin na maraming mga tao, ang dahilan kung bakit ayaw nilang kunin yung drug (because we know that the reason why the people don’t want Sinovac) is because it’s Chinese,” she said.
“Pero kung tanggalin mo yung labeling, tingnan mo lang talaga yung effectivity at yung safety, baka magbago ang isip ninyo (But if you’re going to remove the label and focus on its effectivity and safety, your might change your mind),” she added, noting that it was what QCGH Director Sabando did before convincing other QCGH workers to be vaccinated.
As the city received an initial 300 doses of Sinovac vaccine, Belmonte said, they are “not enough” for QCGH employees who are now willing to get the vaccine.
“Tingin ko, padagdag nang padagdag [ang mga willing na ma-vaccinate] kada araw (I believe, more people from QCGH are now willing to get the vaccine) as the credible people—people of influence—are becoming vaccinated,” she said.