To avoid wastage, there should be a vaccine security and safety officer in every local government unit (LGU) who will ensure that the cold chain storage of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is preserved.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, issued this reminder to local chief executives amid reports of vaccine wastage in some parts of the country.
In Cotabato, health authorities reported that 348 Sinovac vaccines were wasted after a blackout occured last May 7, Friday.
“Binigyan po namin ng strict directive na dapat mayroong vaccine safety and security officer. Iyon po ang tumitingin every six hours na ang level of cold chain ay hindi nabe-break (We gave them a strict directive that they should have a vaccine safety and security officer. S/he will check that the level of cold chain is not broken every six hours),” Galvez told President Duterte during the latter’s pre-recorded “Talk to the Nation” address on Monday night, May 17, but aired on Tuesday morning, May 18.
According to reports from the ground received by Galvez, the vaccines were stored in a freezer at a health center in Makilala town. But a blackout hit the town, prompting officials to transfer the vaccines to a freezer at the Makilala police station.
When the electricity was restored on the same day, the police reportedly turned off its generator, affecting the freezer. It was only after two days or on Monday, May 9, that health authorities noticed the absence of the vaccines which they traced back to the unpowered freezer.
The vaccines were supposed to be used by senior citizens who were scheduled for vaccination at the time.
Galvez said the vaccine security and safety officer should inspect the vaccines four times a day, six hours apart to ensure that the vaccines are stored in its required cold chain facility.
The Sinovac vaccine has a cold chain storage requirement of two to eight degrees Celsius.
The Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have reminded local government officials to ensure that there will be no vaccine wastage as the supply of COVID-19 jabs remains limited.
Meanwhile, a boat carrying two boxes of COVID-19 vaccines also capsized in Real, Quezon last May 14. However, the vaccines were reportedly unaffected since they were placed in a double coating container.