A total of 756 people got inoculated with the first dose of Sinovac’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine on the first day of the Philippines’ vaccination program, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Vergeire said the number was bigger than what they were expecting.

“We had 756 individuals who got vaccinated yesterday, at mas mataas ito kaysa sa in-expect natin,” she said during a virtual presser

Vergiere noted that most of those vaccinated were health workers.

After 28 days, the second dose of Sinovac will be given to the first batch of recipients. 

The health official linked the higher number of vaccine recipients to the efforts of hospital chiefs to receive the Sinovac vaccine, including Dr. Gerardo Legaspi of the Philippine General Hospital, who was the first Filipino to be officially and legally vaccinated in the country.

However, she mentioned that boosting the nation’s confidence won’t happen in a day. 

“Ini-expect natin na tataas pa ang numerong ito, pero it could take mga one week bago natin makita ang big picture, ang kabuuan bago natin masabi na iyong kumpiyansa sa bakuna ay tumataas,” she said.

A recent nationwide survey by the OCTA Research group  found that that only 19% of respondents said they would have themselves vaccinated, while 35% said “can’t say” if they will have themselves vaccinated.  The survey also found that 46% of respondents will not get vaccinated even with a “safe and effective vaccine”.

Vergeire said that Sinovac was given to health workers because it is deemed beneficial to health workers, and not because it is the only Covid-19 vaccine brand in the country.

“Binigay po ito ng gobyerno not because para lang may bakuna. Nagpakita rin po ang Sinovac ng 78% efficacy rate against moderate COVID-19 symptoms at 100% efficacy rate against severe COVID-19 symptoms,” she said. 

“Ang major goal po talaga natin ay mabawasan ang mga nao-ospital, mabawasan iyong magkakaroon ng severe infection, mabawasan iyong mga namamatay dahil sa COVID-19 among our health workers and the vulnerable sector,” Vergeire added.

The government launched its vaccination program on Monday after the 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by China arrived in the country. As of this writing, it is the only vaccine available in the country. Ronald dela Cruz