The Department of Health (DOH) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on Tuesday started the COVID-19 immunization drive for residents of this free port, workers of locator-companies in the free port zone, and SBMA employees.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the DOH-SBMA project will provide COVID-19 vaccines for free, but only with the limited doses the agency can get from the DOH.
“The vaccines are for free, but only those who signed up for the DOH-SBMA vaccination program can avail of the injections,” Eisma said on Tuesday, as she visited the vaccination center put up at the Subic Gym here.
Eisma pointed out that a separate list has been drawn up by the SBMA and the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC) for vaccines to be procured from a private supplier. “Some Subic Freeport residents and workers may have been in that other list,” she added.
Eisma also clarified that the initial doses under the DOH-SBMA project are intended for the A1 to A3 priority groups as determined by the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG), which provides technical recommendations to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
These priority groups include frontline workers in health facilities and health professionals, both private and public; senior citizens 60 years old and above; and persons with comorbidities.
“For this first batch under the DOH-SBMA program, we have secured a total of 1,147 doses for the A1 to A3 groups. But actually, a total of 5,705 doses of various vaccine brands will be allocated and I hope that would cover the majority of our intended recipients,” Eisma added.
According to SBMA Deputy Administrator for Health and Safety Ronnie Yambao, a total of 120 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine was administered at the Subic Gym on Tuesday, with the first recipient a frontline health worker.
Yambao said they expect to complete 250 vaccinations per day until Friday to use up all the first batch of the vaccine.
“We have six volunteer doctors giving the shots, and 15 nurses and 10 administrative staff from the SBMA Public Health and Safety Department who undertake registration, counselling and processing, so we’re up to it and I believe we can finish with this batch and take on the next ones,” Yambao added.
Chairman Eisma, meanwhile, urged Subic stakeholders to sign up for the immunization program and take advantage of the free vaccines from DOH.
“This is not only for our own health and the safety of our family; it is also for the sake of our economy, because we need to be healthy in order to sustain our jobs and livelihood,” Eisma said.
The DOH said that because of limited vaccine supplies around the world, the Philippine government has sourced out vaccines from seven separate manufacturers for its vaccination program.
Still, only those injections which have received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration will be given to the public, the DOH said. The vaccines authorized by the FDA include those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Coronavac, Sputnik, Janssen, Covaxin, and Moderna.