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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

PGH doctors, employees wary of vaccine rollout procedures

UP-PGH doctors say Sinovac should undergo further appraisal; employees call on leadership to stand by them

MANILA – Medical professionals from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) today said while it was made public last Thursday that the medical facility is ready to take whatever vaccine that becomes available.

In a statement released today, the PGH Physicians Association said it is true a hospital-wide vaccine pre-registration for healthcare workers and employees was held from February 9-12,2021. It said 94% expressed willingness to be immunized “under the impression that the vaccine to be administered has undergone the proper evaluation process” by agencies as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) and the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG).

The announcement last February 25, 2021 of the PGH doctors and employees willing to take whatever vaccine becomes available came after the FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine.

The statement went to say the FDA currently recommends Sinovac for clinically healthy people from 18-59 yeas old but does not recommend its use among healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19.

“Hence, it came as a surprise to the PGH community when we learned, through various national media outlets, that the vaccine that will be administered in less than a week’s time is Sinovac. This was met by a sweeping disapproval rate of 95% on the initial survey done among PGH residents and fellows,” the statement revealed.

While the PGH physicians recognize the efforts of their Administration in hastening the vaccination process for its personnel, “the vaccination plan should have been handled with more prudence and transparency.”

“The PGH PA stands firm that Sinovac, despite being the only vaccine available at hand, should undergo appraisal by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) to facilitate individual informed decision-making before it is administered to healthcare workers. We trust the HTAC shall formulate these recommendations with judicious haste,” they said.

Coming from the national university hospital, they said, PGH should set an example on how vaccination rollout should be executed in the country as PGH upholds the ideals of ethical and evidence-based medicine “for which it has been a bastion of.”

They said this could be achieved with constant information dissemination and internal consultation of all concerned parties as they called on everyone “not to lose sight of critical thinking especially on matters relating to own health by monitoring updates and developments in the COVID-19 vaccination.”

They said public vigilance remains the key as they called on the entire PGH community in their collective call for a safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccine for all.”

Meanwhile, PGH employees said they are in a quandary that they do not deserve as Director Gerardo Legazpi announced they are willing to receive the Sinovac jab.

In a separate statement, the University of the Philippines Academic Employees Union -Manila said the recent declaration of hospital director “is not how the PGH leadership should treat those they once called ‘People Giving Hope’”.

They said the announcement was made public even before the hospital personnel themselves learned of it which they consider as “a palpable sense of betrayal and disillusionment.”

The group said it is not just the case of vaccine safety and efficacy, nor whether employees still agree to receive the jab or even what vaccine will be given them but the manner the PGH administration regards the welfare and protection of its personnel.

“We expect, demand and deserve leadership by principle, not leadership by convenience,” they said in their statement.

They went on to claim PGH teaches and practices evidence-based medicine but now askes relevant data and information. They also said there was no consultation and shared decision-making.

“Because this is where the PGH personnel now find themselves in: the unenviable position of being put on the spotlight for the worst possible reasons. Even if they simply exercise their right and refuse to be vaccinated, this can be misconstrued. Worse, they can be subjected to harassment, intimidation and gaslighting,” they employees claimed.

They also cited PGH’s transformation from being a COVID Referral Hospital to the use of Sinovac vaccine as they wondered what they would become next.

They called on the PGH administration to stand in solidarity with the employees as health workers deserve transparency and accountability. They also called for protection.

“The PGH administration should take the national government to task for its failure to address the vaccine supply in this country,” they added as it simply reflects the shortcomings of the Duterte government’s pandemic response.

“For almost a year, the health personnel of PGH have paid for these shortcomings with their sweat, blood and lives.Now is the time to truly and unequivocally stand by them.The PGH leadership can and should do better,” they concluded. (Melo M. Acuna)

(UP-PGH Photo)

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