People about to get inoculated demand to see the expiration date of the Pfizer vaccine vial. A local government unit (LGU) refuses to accept doses past or close to their expiration dates.
These are among the reactions to fears that what the public might get as their vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is expired or close to the expiration dates stated in the vials. This cautiousness is understandable as they want to secure their protection against the virus. The vaccine is a move towards getting protected; it would be a waste of effort and emotions if they were to receive expired doses.
Health officials should understand that people are on alert for expired vaccines as they know Covid-19 is real and this new variant is a serious threat. After taking the time and gaining the courage to go out and get vaccinated, they do not want to end up wasting all that by getting an expired dose.
In Negros Occidental, local officials reportedly refused to accept the AstraZeneca vaccines delivered to them as these were already expired. Aside from the expiry issue, there were officials who preferred other brands.
This cautiousness by the LGUs is also translated to individuals who check the expiration date before they agree to the shot. It’s like checking the expiry date of the bread you’re about to purchase.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Department of Health (DOH) is investigating these reports. She said LGUs have nothing to fear as the vaccines nearing expiration “can still be used” and are effective. The DOH, she said, is holding on to the 14,000 expired AstraZeneca vaccine doses from Negros Occidental in case the pharmaceutical company applies for an updating of expiry date the same way Pfizer got approval for an extension.
Visayas Vaccination Operations Center spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said people demanding to see the label of their Pfizer doses should be assured that expired vaccines will never be used. She added that Pfizer-BioNTech was able to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration to extend expiration dates of their Covid-19 vaccine from six to nine months.
Vials with a printed expiry date of November 2021 have an updated expiry date of February 2022. Those with a printed expiry date of December 2021 have an updated expiry date of March 2022, and so forth.
The World Health Organization indeed has advised countries to hold on to their expired anti-Covid doses while it assesses whether the vaccines could still be viable beyond their initial expiration date. Some vaccine makers, like Pfizer, are asking for approval to update the expiry of their doses.
The DOH will have to review its vaccination logistics to ensure timely delivery and administration of the vaccine. For individuals about to get vaccinated, it is within your right to know the expiry date of the vaccine you’re about to get. And the DOH shouldn’t take offense.