GENERAL SANTOS CITY: The provincial government of South Cotabato is working on the purchase of around 600,000 doses of the Covovax vaccine in preparation for the planned rollout within this year of its own vaccination program against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said Monday the local government has already placed an order for the vaccine, which is developed by the United States-based Novavax and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
He said it will augment the vaccines that will be allotted by the national government for the mass vaccination of priority residents in the area.
“This is for those who will not be catered under the priority list of recipients (this year) so we can reach the 70 percent target for herd immunity,” Tamayo said in his radio program “Ang Gobernador kag ang Katawhan.”
The ordered vaccines are for two doses and will cover some 300,000 individuals.
With the province’s current population estimated at around one million, the province needs to inoculate at least 700,000 residents to achieve herd immunity against the disease.
The governor said the cost of the vaccines, which he did not disclose, will be shared by the provincial government and the area’s 10 municipalities and lone city.
The National Task Force against Covid-19 and the Department of Health (DOH) have been assisting local government units, including the province, in purchasing their own vaccines.
The national government had signed a deal to secure 30 million doses of Covovax, which are expected to arrive in the country beginning the third quarter of the year.
Tamayo, who is a Covid-19 survivor, said it is important for the eligible population in the province to get inoculated and have proper protection against the disease the soonest possible time.
He cited that the vaccines being provided by the national government to front-line health care workers, specifically the Sinovac and AstraZeneca brands, are guaranteed safe and effective.
The governor debunked speculations and “fake” information circulating in the media that the vaccines can cause death and various health problems.
He signified willingness to get vaccinated in public once he becomes eligible to set an example to the people.
“I tell you, give me the (Covid-19) vaccine that you fear the most and I will gladly take it,” he said.
Tamayo, who tested positive for the disease last Feb. 19 and experienced mild symptoms, is not eligible for inoculation until the third week of May based on the 90-day waiting period set by the DOH.
The vaccination of eligible front-line health workers in the province is currently ongoing using the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines provided by the DOH.
Since March 6, the Integrated Provincial Health Office of South Cotabato already received a total of 8,828 doses of the two vaccines.
The latest delivery on Monday, the fourth batch for the area, is composed of 284 vials or 2,840 doses of AstraZeneca and 450 doses of Sinovac vaccines.