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COVID-19 vaccination expanded to all PH athletes

A national athlete is being inoculated with Sinovac vaccine. Ivan Saldajeno
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA—Government has approved the inoculation of anti-Covid-19 vaccines on all athletes other than those bound for the Hanoi 31st Southeast Asian Games, according to Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

“This is another great news for our national athletes and for all of Philippine sports,” Tolentino said on Monday, only three days after the successful inoculation of SEA Games-bound athletes last Friday at the Prince Hotel in Manila.

More than half of the 730 SEA Games-bound athletes who registered for the vaccination got their first dose of the Sinovac vaccine last Friday. Most of those who didn’t get their vaccines were either in the provinces or abroad.

“This next round of vaccinations will also include those athletes and coaches who missed last Friday’s vaccination,” Tolentino said.

Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid 19, relayed the good news to the POC chief on Monday.

“We thank the government for putting priority on our athletes and coaches for the vaccine rollout,” Tolentino said.

There are close to 1,600 athletes and coaches in the national team and pool on the Philippine Sports Commission roster. The list includes the SEA Games-bound athletes and para athletes.

The turn of events on the inoculation of athletes was swift and efficient. Tolentino wrote the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases through Health Secretary Francisco Duque III last May 18 and on May 24, got a positive response.

The inoculation happened four days later.

“And this—the absolute vaccination of all national athletes—whether or not they are going to Hanoi—is a relief for Philippine sports,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino said the date and venue of the next round of vaccination will be announced soon.

Members of the national men’s basketball team, meanwhile, thanked Tolentino and the government for giving them  a “peace of mind” to train and compete in two upcoming International Basketball Federation (FIBA) competitions.  

“We already have a peace of mind and protection finally from the virus after this vaccination,” coach Joseph Enrique “Jong” Uichico said. “We are really thankful to the POC especially to Congressman Tolentino and to the national government for providing the national athletes the vaccine.” 

“We can now train confidently. First of all, we will be going to Clark bubble next month [June]. So it’s good that we have the immunity going there,” said Uichico, who got his vaccine last Friday along with the 16 players in the Gilas Pilipinas pool.

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