Bacolod City – The provincial government of Negros Occidental is racing against time in the disposal of more than 200,000 doses of assorted brands of COVID-19 vaccines, as the number of Negrenses availing vaccines become fewer.
Dr. Claudelia Josefa Pabillo, officer in charge of provincial government cold storage facility, yesterday said the vaccines are set to expire by the end of April this year,
But Pabillo said that the 36,720 doses of Pfizer with orange cap marked for pediatrics vaccination has already been allocated for second dose utilization of 5 to 11 years old, and is expected to be fully used by the end of April.
Other near expiry vaccines include 140,539 doses of Janssen, 38,900 AstraZeneca doses, and 4, 890 Moderna doses, according to Pabillo.
Provincial Inter Agency Task Force action officer Rayfrando Diaz on Wednesday said that the slow vaccination is being experienced not only in Negros Occidental, but all over the country, after the saturation point has been reached.
Those left are people who do not intend to be vaccinated because of religious beliefs, or do not believe in the vaccines.
Pabillo some that some of the COVID 19 jabs have already been distributed to local government units requesting it. The problem is that the expected number of clients did not show up at the vaccination sites, she added.
This led to the under-utilization of the vaccines, Pabillo further said.
At the same, she also observed that there appears to be hesitancy in accepting the AstraZeneca vaccines because of misconceptions.
The near expiry vaccines are being given priority in the distribution to LGUs so that it cannot be wasted, she added.
The low vaccination turnout for senior citizens was also noted in Negros Occidental, which prompted the provincial government to give incentives to entice them to avail of vaccination.
Pabillo said that administering of booster shots, as well as first and second doses, is ongoing in the different LGUs and even in government hospitals.
As of March 30, Negros Occidental recorded 65.02 percent of 80 percent targeted Negrense population have already been vaccinated.
On the other hand, Diaz said teams of vaccinators have already been deployed in the barangays by the provincial government to help various LGUs in their vaccination campaign.
Pabillo confirmed the arrival of more doses of Pfizer vaccine intended for pediatrics inoculation either within the week, or early next week.
The executive director of the Emergency Operations Center in Bacolod City said that they are just waiting for the advice of the Department of Health 6 (DOH) on what to do with the city’s oversupply of COVID-19 vaccines.
Em Legaspi-Ang said they have refused to accept the vaccines that were sent to Bacolod City about a month ago because these cannot be consumed in such a short period of time. However, the DOH did not agree and still delivered the supply that is due to expire this March and April.
She advised acting City Health Officer Edwin Miraflor to write the DOH 6 and the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) to refuse the delivery because they still have a big inventory of vaccines in their cold room. So, it is impossible to consume them in such a short period of time considering that they have covered almost 130 percent of their target population, she said adding that this was later increased to 80 percent.
Right now, Bacolod is averaging 831 doses of vaccination a day in all vaccination centers. Whereas before, they had an average of 12,000 to 20,000 per day. They have also reached 247 percent of the senior citizens population, Ang said.
“So, even if we cover the whole of Bacolod, there are no more (residents) to vaccinate because those who do not want to be vaccinated will never be convinced to be vaccinated,” she said.
Ang said that what they are targeting now is the booster dose which is not so big since they have already administered about 1,170,229 doses of COVID vaccines.
When they wrote the DOH, they were told that they cannot refuse the delivery of the vaccines. But they have proof that they informed the DOH early on that the vaccine will not be consumed in a short period of time, she said.
Ang said they are just waiting for the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) because the NVOC is waiting for the extension of the expiration date especially of AstraZeneca. If the DOH says they should give the vaccines to other local governments, that is what they are going to do. However, they have already notified them of the volume left that will not be disposed. (Chrysee Semillano | Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)