Cebu City finalizes list of Covid vaccine sites

·5 min read

CHURCHES, malls, schools, barangay gyms and health centers are being eyed as potential vaccination sites in Cebu City.

Cebu City Administrator Floro Casas Jr., co-chair of the Vaccine Advisory Board (VAB), said the City Government was in talks with the owners and management of the proposed vaccination sites.

He said they were looking at the size of each potential site to ensure that physical distancing would be observed during the implementation of the vaccination program against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“This needs to be studied thoroughly,” Casas said in an interview Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.

Under the government’s national deployment and vaccination program, an ideal vaccination site must have a waiting area, registration area, health education area, screening area, vaccination area and a post-vaccination monitoring area, where recipients of a vaccine are observed for 30 minutes to one hour.

Casas also said the City Government has begun the process of establishing its vaccine operations center (VOC), as required by the National Vaccine Operations Center.

Cebu City, which has been identified as a priority area for the rollout of vaccines because of rising cases of infection, was among the local government units (LGU) that were earlier directed to immediately activate a local VOC.

Vaccines

Aside from the vaccines that will be provided by the national government, a portfolio of other vaccines are being eyed for Cebu City residents.

Casas said negotiations with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sinovac were still ongoing.

Given that candidate vaccines against Covid-19 are administered in two doses, except for the single-dose Janssen vaccine, Cebu City would need at least two million doses to inoculate its entire population of around one million.

Casas said they need to know first the number of doses that will be provided by the national government so they can negotiate to procure the balance.

Under the present procurement setup, LGUs may purchase vaccines only through the national government to ensure vaccine equity.

Candidate vaccines against Covid-19 are still under development and are not approved for commercial use yet, although an emergency use authorization (EUA) may be issued to allow the use of a vaccine during a public health emergency.

So far, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Philippines has issued an EUA for the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford.

Pfizer vaccine

The government is expecting 117,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this month, through the Covax facility, a mechanism that ensures global vaccine equity.

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Monday, that healthcare frontliners from 34 hospitals, including the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City, will receive the vaccine first.

Aside from the VSMMC, other hospitals prioritized for the Pfizer vaccine are 32 facilities in Metro Manila and the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.

As of Monday, Vergeire said most of these 34 hospitals have submitted their verified lists of priority recipients as well as quick substitution lists.

“Some hospitals are still completing their quick subsitution lists,” Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is administered in two doses 28 days apart to persons who are at least 16 years old but not more than 80 years old.

The Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (iNitag) earlier said the following allocation framework will be followed in the distribution of the Pfizer vaccines: Covid-19 dedicated hospitals, Covid-19 referral hospitals, DOH-owned hospitals, LGU hospitals, hospitals for uniformed services/personnel and private hospitals.

The frontline workers in the 34 hospitals belong to Priority Group A1, based on the priority population groups identified by the iNitag for vaccination.

Covid-19 cases

Meanwhile, the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) recorded a positivity rate of 18.3 percent on Feb. 14, 2021, the highest since the city was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), said Councilor Joel Garganera, EOC deputy chief implementer.

Infections have been accelerating in Cebu City and Cebu Province since January 2021, based on the DOH nationwide tracker.

Cebu City continued to post the highest number of new cases nationwide, with 1,955 new cases based on onset of illness or date of specimen collection in the last 14 days, DOH said.

On Feb. 14, there were 218 new cases, more than 200 for the second consecutive day. Active cases edged closer to 3,000, totaling 2,993 as of Feb. 14.

Cebu Province, which came in third spot on Feb. 13, climbed to second place on Feb. 14, with 909 new cases over the same 14-day period.

Cebu Province had 83 new cases on Feb. 14, more than 50 for 13 days in a row. Active cases breached 1,000 on Feb. 13 and increased further to 1,102 on Feb. 14.

Quezon City followed Cebu Province closely with 908 new cases. Other cities with a high number of new cases for the same period were Davao City (764) and Manila (677).

In terms of total cases, however, Cebu City and Cebu Province were not among the top five cities and provinces nationwide.

Cebu City had 14,822 total cases, with 714 deaths and 11,115 recoveries aside from the 2,993 active cases, while Cebu Province had 8,871 cumulative cases, with 438 deaths, 7,331 recoveries and 1,102 active cases, as of Feb. 14.

The five highest cumulative cases as of Feb. 14 were in Quezon City (42,815), Manila (28,673), Cavite (26,281), Laguna (24,668) and Rizal (21,985). (JJL / MVI / SunStar Philippines)