MAASIN CITY, Mar. 12 (PIA) -- Health care personnel like doctors, nurses, medical, and administration staff at the provincial hospital who are in the frontlines in the continuing battle against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) readily submitted themselves for immunization.

Dr. Ionee Castillones, medical center chief of Salvacion Oppus Yniguez Memorial Provincial Hospital (SOYMPH), became the very first vaccinee of the first batch, first dose in the province.

Castillones earlier officially announced in a short program that 24 vials of AstraZeneca arrived from the Department of Health (DOH) regional office.

The delivery was enough to cover an initial batch of 240 individual for the 3-day immunization program that began Thursday until Saturday, March 13, with each vial intended for injection to ten persons.

At past 5 o’clock in the afternoon yesterday, about 80 SOYMPH personnel had taken the jab, more than the target of 50 persons, a visibly elated Dr. Castillone told one of the local media members in a text message, adding she has yet to check the specific number.

As expected, slight reactions were noted in the first 30 minutes after the injection, like reddish marks appearing in the surrounding arm where the needle pierced, but moments after this allergy was addressed everything was alright.

In the simulation exercise held Wednesday, Gov. Damian Mercado and Dr. Feliciano Matibag, provincial health officer, would have been the first two to be inoculated, with Dr. Castillones coming in third, but a last-minute message from DOH through its representative, Dr. Verna Fernandez, held them off.

SOYMPH is a Level 2 hospital, and the healthcare workers here who are directly serving Covid-positive patients are thus qualified to be among the priorities, while Gov. Mercado and Dr. Matibag are not directly involved in the operations of the hospital, Fernandez explained as the reason for the exclusion.

Sought for his reaction, Gov. Mercado commented he will abide by the DOH instruction and will give way for the benefit of the health personnel.

Although a bit disappointed, Mercado said his resolve to get vaccinated still remained, as this was his way of showing and inspiring others, to be the model for Southern Leytenos, so they will feel confident and safe, and be immunized as well following his example as soon as the next batches of the vaccines will be arriving sooner in the province.

Off season rains pouring yesterday morning failed to dampen the mixed emotions of excitement and baited breath, the suspense mood, as everyone eagerly anticipated the coming of the very first batch of AstraZeneca Covid vaccines.

Indeed, as the convoy of army trucks, police vehicles, and ambulance carrying the vaccines entered the SOYMPH compound in Barangay Dongon, then ushered inside, it was met with cheers and applause, a warm welcome deserving for the arrival of something that brings hope in ending the pandemic. (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)