Lorenzana gets Sinovac shot… Oops! Just for photo op

Published March 6, 2021, 12:05 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

From the way it looks, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has finally taken the challenge to be vaccinated amid doubts and fears of Filipinos of being inoculated against the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (PNA)

A photo, which is now circulating online, shows a female health care worker holding a syringe directly to the rolled-up sleeves of Lorenzana who was among the guests during the vaccination rollout at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City on Friday, March 5, of China-made Sinovac.

The photo opportunity seemed to be very realistic that it was picked up and reported by several media outfits.

But wait, no vaccination actually happened and Lorenzana himself admitted that it was just for a photo.

“Photo ops lang (Just for a photo opportunity),” Lorenzana told reporters who were asking him if he was already vaccinated when the photo started to circulate online.

During the roll-out of the government’s free vaccination on Monday, March 1, Lorenzana said that he is disqualified from getting the jab since the Department of Health had advised that the vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech is only for people with the age bracket of 18 to 59. Lorenzana, who is also the overall head of the National Task Force COVID-19,  is 72 years old.

“I wanted to be the first to receive the Sinovac vaccine in the DND [Department of National Defense] to build trust and confidence among [the] personnel but health experts advised that those over 59 should not be vaccinated,” he said.

“If it weren’t for age restrictions, I’d be the first to take the shots,” he added.

Many social media users believe that Lorenzana did the photo opportunity to encourage the public, especially the healthcare workers, to get the Sinovac vaccine as an added layer of protection against COVID-19.

Ironically, the DOH and the Department of the Interior and Local Government hosted on Thursday, March 4, a Media Literacy Session with reporters to convince media workers to report accurately and truthfully in order to convince more Filipinos to be vaccinated.

Early this week, several Cabinet officials were inoculated with Sinovac including vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director Eric Domingo, testing czar Vince Dizon, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos.

Meanwhile, the first Sinovac vaccine that reached the Southern Philippines Medical Center was administered by Duque on Dr. Ricardo Audan, the hospital’s chief, which signalled the official rollout of the national vaccine program in Mindanao.

Audan was among the 4,130 personnel of the SPMC who signed up for the vaccine rollout, and part of the more than 13,000 frontline health workers who have been inoculated since the inoculation program was launched last March 1 in Metro Manila.