Dr. Liland Estacion receives a Covid-19 shot at Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital in Dumaguete City. (PIO)

The vaccination rollout in Negros Oriental has been delayed after medical frontlines begged off from receiving coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines.

For weeks, the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) has repeatedly asked frontliners, who are part of the government’s A1 vaccination priority groups, to be inoculated.

IPHO’s call was unheard as Covid-19 shots had been left unused throughout the province, said Dr. Liland Estacion, assistant provincial health officer.

Estacion said that of the over 15,000 frontline workers on their priority list, 6,670 were unvaccinated.

The IPHO discovered that those who were not yet inoculated were mostly Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), she said.

IPHO noted numerous reasons why BHWs were not being inoculated. These include doubts on the safety and efficacy of the shots, aggravated by past fears over the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine controversy; and the proliferation of misinformation online and from some local media members spreading doubts on the national immunization program.

Estacion said the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (PIATF) was set to meet this week to discuss how to encourage BHWs to get Covid-19 shots and to counter local media practitioners spreading misleading information on vaccination.

Negros Oriental has received a few thousand of AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines, enough for the province’s A1 priority list, Estacion said.

The province recently started giving shots to the A2 group, including senior citizens. Health workers have so far immunized 187 senior citizens from excess shots initially intended for medical frontliners.

Estacion said the entire province would most likely continue to receive fewer shots until the province’s “consumption rate” increases through inoculations with those in the A2 priority group.

Negros Oriental has seen numerous surges of new Covid-19 infections, with active cases at 415, deaths at 86, and recoveries at 2,436. Ryan Sorote