DAVAO CITY – A local committee, investigating the adverse effects of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines, found no direct link between the death of two individuals in the city and vaccination, according to a local health official.
Dr. Josephine Villafuerte, COVID-19 vaccination cluster head of this city, said, in an interview, that their deaths were not related to the vaccine, and could likely be “coincidental” based on the assessment of the Local Adverse Effects Following Immunization (AEFI) Committee of City Government of Davao.
She said that there is no vaccine-related death reported in the city so far.
Created in February upon passage of an ordinance for implementation of COVID-19 Immunization Program at the City Council, the committee is composed of members who are experts in the following fields: pediatrics, neurology, virology/microbiology, epidemiology, immunology, forensic pathology and other medical experts in the field of geriatrics, adult medicine and infectious disease.
The functions of the committee include, among others, the review of all reported serious and minor cluster AEFI cases presented for expert opinion and provide final causality assessment of the AEFI cases; ensure evidence-based causality assessment by recommending further investigation and data collection as needed; and, make final decisions on causality assessment of inconclusive investigations.
It is also tasked to ensure that the standard protocols for AEFI surveillance and investigation are correctly followed; engage with other national experts when requirements arise in establishment of causality and vaccine quality issues; provide recommendations to the City Health Office (CHO) and Department of Health-Davao (DOH-Davao), Epidemiology Bureau and Food and Drug Administration on improving immunization service delivery, compliance with injection safety and effective vaccination management based on lessons from the AEFI cases; serve as technical advisory group to the CHO on vaccine and immunization safety-related issues; and serve as resource person in other AEFI related meetings, conferences or capacity-building activities as requested.
Villafuerte reported that around 120,000 individuals have been vaccinated in the city, comprising 10% of the total target individuals of 1.2 million to attain “herd immunity.”
Currently, the vaccination program of the local government is catering to persons belonging to the A1 or health workers, A2 or senior citizens, and A3 or persons with comorbidities, particularly those aged 18 to 59 years, suffering with illnesses or comorbidities such as chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, malignancy, diabetes, obesity, chronic liver disease, neurologic disease, and immunodeficiency disease.
Based on the data from the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao, the region has so far received 688,350 vaccines, including 210,600 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 44,800 additional doses of CoronaVac or Sinovac.