Brace for arrival of Pfizer jabs, LGUs told

Published June 20, 2021, 1:19 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Local government units (LGUs) should prepare in advance for the anticipated arrival of “sensitive” Pfizer vaccines to avoid mishandling and wastage, the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 reiterated on Sunday, June 20.

Hundreds of residents from Cebu City who are under A1, A2, A3 priority lists which refer to medical frontliners, senior citizens, and people with comorbidities line up to receive Pfizer vaccines at the University of Cebu on May 19, 2021 (JUAN CARLO DE VELA / MANILA BULLETIN)

NTF Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. issued the reminder after he announced the signing of the supply agreement for the procurement of 40 million doses of Pfizer jabs, the biggest vaccine procurement made by the government this year.

“We again emphasize for LGUs to ensure third party logistics and cold chain service providers for very sensitive vaccines like Pfizer, Moderna, and Sputnik V. We don’t want any vaccine to be wasted because of spoilage and mishandling,” Galvez said.

Pfizer has one of the most sensitive storage temperature requirements among all vaccines approved for emergency use in the country. It needs to be stored in a cold chain facility with a temperature of -80 to -60 degree centigrade (frozen solution) to maintain its efficacy.

Meanwhile, Moderna and Sputnik V require -20 degree centigrade storage requirement.

Galvez said the NTF intends to deploy the Pfizer vaccines “as soon as possible” in places where there are observed spike of cases, including in rural communities. The vaccines will start arriving in tranches in August.

“However, this will not be possible if the receiving LGU is not ready to handle these types of vaccines,” he noted.

Through its “hub and spokes” strategy, the government equipped LGUs around the country in handling sensitive vaccines by partnering with third-party logisticcs providers to set-up cold chain facilities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

A cold chain facility was each established in Marikina City in Luzon; Cebu in Visayas; and Davao in Mindanao to handle the storage of the vaccines. These areas as considered as “hubs” where the vaccines are stored prior to the deployment in “spokes” or the areas where supply is needed.

However, some LGUs particularly in Metro Manila have established their own cold storage facilities to enable them to handle the vaccines.