THE Department of Health (DOH) 7 on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, said it will redistribute and use as first dose all the AstraZeneca vaccines that arrived in the region to ensure that these are administered before expiry on May 31, 2021.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said they will pull out from the hospitals the stocks that were allotted as second dose and distribute these to the temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, emergency operation centers and other healthcare facilities to be used as first dose.
She stressed that this has nothing to do with global concerns over the safety of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine.
“We must administer these. We will not save anymore and store for the second dose so that we will be able to distribute the AstraZeneca before its expiry date,” she said.
A total of 30,000 doses of the AZ vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) arrived in Cebu on March 10. Loreche said 29,500 doses were distributed to hospitals. Inoculations began on March 16.
The vaccine is administered in two doses six to 12 weeks apart, but DOH has recommended that the second dose be given within the 12th week to give the body enough time to recover, Loreche said.
By then, however, the available vaccines would have expired.
So far, 2,433 doses of the AZ vaccine have been administered, Loreche said.
She assured that additional stocks would arrive in the region before the schedule for the second dose.
Meanwhile, the second dose of the Sinovac vaccine or CoronaVac will be administered as scheduled.
Loreche said the CoronaVac will expire on Jan. 13, 2024 yet. It is also given in two doses, but only 28 days apart.
Citing data from the Regional Vaccination Operations Center, Loreche said Central Visayas has been allocated a total of 107,160 doses of Sinovac and AZ vaccines as of March 15.
The bulk, or 77,160 doses, are from Sinovac while 30,000 are from AstraZeneca.
As of March 15, she said 20 hospitals in the region have already finished administering the first dose of Sinovac vaccines to their healthcare workers.
These include the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Cebu Doctors’ University and Perpetual Succour Hospital in Cebu, and Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Bohol.
A total of 13,835 doses of the Sinovac vaccine have been administered.
Of those vaccinated, 232 reported mostly mild adverse events after inoculation. There were 25 who refused to be inoculated while vaccination was deferred for 276 people.
A total of 2,433 doses of the AZ vaccine have already been given to healthcare workers.
There were 22 healthcare workers who refused vaccination, 81 were deferred and 61 experienced adverse events after inoculation.
The first batch of Sinovac vaccines arrived in the region on March 2 (7,200 doses), followed by 17,840 doses on March 5, another 2,680 doses on March 5 that were directly delivered to the Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Bohol, additional 5,000 doses on March 7 that were sent directly to Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital, and over 44,000 additional doses delivered on March 16.
Loreche earlier said Central Visayas would need 110,524 doses to fully vaccinate 55,262 healthcare workers.
As of March 17, 10,164 healthcare workers in hospitals within Cebu City have received either the Sinovac or AZ vaccine, according to Cebu City Health Department (CHD) officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones.
Only a few experienced minor adverse effects such as headache, high blood pressure and muscle pain, he added.
Ibones also said 49 healthcare workers refused to be vaccinated while inoculation of 166 others was deferred.
Ibones said vaccination of 223 CHD personnel, around 1,000 barangay health workers (BHWs), and healthcare workers in private and public clinics, including lying-in clinics, will possibly start next week.
Cebu City Councilor David Tumulak said the priests of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Barangay Punta Princesa have provided space for a vaccination site for the BHWs next week.
There are around 16,000 healthcare workers in Cebu City, including those in public and private hospitals, clinics, school clinics and lying-in centers.
Tumulak said several factors are considered in choosing a vaccination site such as public transport accessibility, water and power supply, and proximity to a hospital.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said he signed on Wednesday the term sheet for the purchase of P100 million worth of Covovax, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax which will be manufactured by Serum Institute of India.
A term sheet is a non-binding agreement that specifies the number of doses, purchase price, target date of signing of the binding supply agreement, payment and effectivity dates, delivery schedules and other obligations of each party.
The document was given to Faberco Life Sciences Inc., distributor of Covovax in the Philippines.
“I have just signed the term sheet for the Cebu City Government to purchase our own Covid-19 vaccines so we can augment what was given by the national government,” Labella said.
The Cebu City Council authorized Labella on March 16 to sign the term sheet with Faberco. It has set aside P400 million for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, the Cebu City Government has decided to suspend negotiations for the procurement of the AZ vaccine in light of concerns that it causes blood clots despite assurances by the company and health authorities of its safety.
Loreche of DOH 7 noted that the World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the European Medicines Agency are standing by the result of their studies that the AZ vaccine is “very safe and effective.”
“Secondly, there is what we call the benefit far outweighs the very, very small amount of those that may develop a secondary problem relative to the vaccine,” she added. (WBS / JJL / REV)