BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Mayor Evelio Leonardia received his first dose of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine at the Bacolod Government Center lobby Saturday, and encouraged residents not to be afraid and have themselves inoculated against Covid-19.
Acting City Health Officer, Dr. Edwin Miraflor, administered the shot to Leonardia in the presence of the media and city officials, led by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, chairman of the local Inter-Agency Task Force, and councilors Renecito Novero and Lady Gles Pallen.
Leonardia’s inoculation followed the issuance of Advisory No. 26, dated April 5, 2021 by the national Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center, allowing the vaccination of local chief executives from critical and high risk provinces, cities, and municipalities, including Bacolod City.
In the advisory, the VOC said that if a locality becomes a high or critical risk as determined by the Department of Health, the LCEs shall be qualified for inoculation.
The list released by the office of DOH undersecretary, Dr. Myrna Cabotaje, chairman of the VOC, included the provinces of Negros Occidental and Oriental and Bacolod City.
With the inclusion of Negros Occidental in the high risk category, Leonardia said Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson may also have himself inoculated as he is part of the 403 LCEs, who were allowed to receive the vaccines by the VOC.
Leonardia, who is the president of the League of Cities in the Philippines, said that previously, LCEs were under priority B but they wrote President Rodrigo Duterte and asked that they will be elevated to category A, and this was approved.
He said that the Union of Local Authorities in the Philippines, where he is also an executive officer, also appealed to include the governors down to the kagawads as priorities in the vaccination rollout program of the government.
Leonardia was scheduled to be inoculated on March 24, but it was cancelled as the city was still not considered a high risk area then.
He admitted that he has friends who advised him not to pursue the inoculation anymore but he said he is morally bound to do so as he is aiming to increase the vaccine acceptance rate among Bacolodnons.
Bacolod was able to secure a total of 650,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that are expected to arrive in the middle of the year. These vaccines will benefit 325,000 residents, or about 68 percent of the total population of the city.
Asked why he chose AstraZeneca, Leonardia said he could have entertained other vaccines but since it is the jab that will be used to inoculate the residents, he might as well get it, too.
58% ACCEPTANCE RATE
Emergency Operations Center executive director Em Ang earlier said the vaccine acceptance rate in Bacolod is about 58 percent.
With his inoculation, Leonardia said that, hopefully, the acceptance rate towards the vaccines will increase, especially now that Covid cases are on the rise again in the city and “we are in a critical situation”.
He stressed that residents should take this opportunity while there is an available vaccine because in other areas, many people would like to be vaccinated but they don’t have the capacity to procure enough doses.
Leonardia said there is nothing to worry about because, although the reaction of one’s body towards the vaccine may vary, “generally, you will not feel anything while being vaccinated.”
EOC deputy for Medical and Data Analysis, Dr. Chris Sorongon, said that Bacolod will receive an additional 5,000 doses of vaccine for 2,500 frontliners.
But he said if there are no more available frontliners, the vaccines will be given to senior citizens and residents with comorbidities instead, based on the priority list of the VOC.
Sorongon and Miraflor led the inoculation of 20 dentists, who received the vaccines along with Leonardia.*