Over 2,000 doses administered in first two days of PH COVID-19 vaccination program – DOH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 3)— More than 2,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered to frontliners and other personnel during the first two days of the Philippines' inoculation program, the Health Department said on Wednesday.

"As of yesterday, we got information that they are now at 2,428 vaccinees," Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire told CNN Philippines' The Source. "So for March 1 and March 2...we were already able to provide 2,000 plus doses of Sinovac vaccine."

The Philippines kicked off its historic immunization drive against the coronavirus on Monday following the arrival last weekend of the doses of the China-donated Sinovac. Philippine General Hospital Director Dr. Gerardo "Gap" Legaspi was the first one to receive the shot, followed by fellow frontliners and some government and task force officials.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said inoculation for the general public may begin as early as May, with the government setting its sight on vaccinating 50 to 70 million Filipinos by year-end.

Meanwhile, Cebu City is geared up for its ceremonial vaccination program on Thursday. Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center plans to inoculate over 50 "influencers" or top officials in the hospital, including healthcare workers who have volunteered to take the first shots. Around 7,000 Sinovac vaccines have been delivered to Cebu.

Helena Madamba, the center's spokesperson, said over 3,500 of its workers are eligible for the vaccines, but only more than 1,000 have given their consent to be vaccinated.

"As of last count, we have 1,117 healthcare workers who have consented to get Sinovac over the next seven days," Madamba told CNN Philippines' News.PH.

However, the number is higher than the initial 400 who agreed to take the vaccine. Madamba attributed the rise in confidence to the orientation it held over the weekend to encourage healthcare workers to get immunized.

"All we wanted to make sure is that our employees have a full informed consent that they are aware of the benefits, the risk of Sinovac vaccine, and it's a personal choice," she stressed. "No one will force them to get vaccinated."

Aside from the Sinovac vaccine, the Philippines is also expected to receive doses this week from British drugmaker AstraZeneca, which will be supplied through the COVAX facility.