DOH 7: Vaccine compliance ‘very low’

Wenilyn Sabalo
·5 min read

THE Department of Health (DOH) 7 has appealed to hospitals in Central Visayas to ramp up the vaccination of their healthcare workers using the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine as the region has yet to reach 50 percent compliance, two weeks after its vaccination program started on March 4, 2021.

Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson and chief pathologist, on Thursday, March 18, said based on their latest data, only 13,843 healthcare workers have been inoculated with the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine versus the 77,160 total allocated Sinovac doses which can already cover complete vaccination or two doses for 38,580 individuals.

“Our compliance rate is very low. It’s not even 50 percent. I hope that we will be able to comply and make it as soon as we can so that we can move on to our A2 (next) priority list the moment the vaccines arrive again,” Loreche said.

Loreche said it is, however, possible that hospitals might have been doing vaccinations but have yet to submit their updated data.

“We are looking into the placement of our people in the facilities or hospitals for monitoring,” she said in a text message to SunStar Cebu.

She said 22 hospitals finished giving the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine on their workers that were willing to be vaccinated.

These include Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Bohol, Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital, Perpetual Succour Hospital, and Chong Hua Hospital.

Priority groups

Based on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) Resolution 98-A, next to medical and health personnel as priority for vaccination are senior citizens or those aged 60 years old and above.

Persons with comorbidities will follow, then frontline personnel in essential sectors which include uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during the enhanced community quarantine period such as tourism-related workers.

Next would be the indigent population not included in the categories mentioned earlier.

This will then be followed by Group B including teachers and social workers, succeeded by these groups in the following order: Other government workers, other essential workers, socio-demographic groups significantly at higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people, overseas Filipino workers and the remaining workforce.

Meanwhile, Loreche said the DOH 7 is still verifying if the healthcare worker who reportedly died after vaccination was from Central Visayas.

“Based on our data, this is not from Cebu province or the three HUCs (highy urbanized cities). We are tracing from other provinces of Region 7,” she said.

Here in the region, 25 healthcare workers have, so far, refused to be vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine while the inoculation of 276 individuals have been deferred, according to the DOH 7.

AEFI

A total of 232 health care workers also experienced adverse events following immunization (AEFI).

The AEFI or untoward medical occurrence which follows the Covid-19 vaccination does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine.

Loreche said based on data from Vigiflow (the reporting format the hospitals are supposed to use in their vaccination reportage), of the 232 healthcare workers who experienced AEFI with the Sinovac vaccine, 53.26 percent experienced pain on the vaccination site, 32.15 percent reported having experienced rashes, and 23.11 experienced itchiness.

Majority of those who reported adverse events were female healthcare workers comprising 71.3 percent or 144 cases.

Majority or 68.8 percent of the healthcare workers that experienced AEFI were from the VSMMC.

“We expected that because they also had the most number of inoculations and they were our first vaccination center for healthcare workers,” Loreche said.

VSMMC had its ceremonial vaccination last March 4 using CoronaVac, also known as the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine developed by the Chinese company Sinovac Biotech.

Next to VSMMC, Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City had the most number of AEFIs or 22 cases (10.9 percent) followed by Chong Hua Mandaue with 10 reported cases of AEFIs (five percent).

Loreche said as of now, only 11 out of the more than 30 hospitals in the region that started their vaccination program have used the Vigiflow format.

“We call on our hospitals. Please fill up the Vigiflow including the daily uploading of the number of employees that you have vaccinated,” she said.

The DOH 7 has not received reports of serious AEFIs so far.

AstraZeneca

Meanwhile, a total of 2,433 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines were administered in the region as of March 17. The AstraZeneca vaccine had 22 refusals, 90 deferrals, and 64 AEFIs, Loreche said.

Thirty thousand doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the region on March 14.

The DOH 7 said it will use all the AstraZeneca vaccines that arrived in the region to ensure the vaccines are administered before they expire on May 31.

In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella said the City will push through with its negotiation for the purchase of AstraZeneca vaccines once reported issues concerning the brand will be cleared.

The Vaccine Advisory Board is also not closing its doors on the purchase of other vaccine brands aside from AstraZeneca and Covovax.

“We are not closing the possibility of getting other brands,” Labella told SunStar Cebu.

Labella signed the term sheet with Faberco Life Sciences Inc., distributor of the Covovax vaccine in the country, on March 17, 2021.

“(But) everything is still fluid,” Labella said.

The Covovax vaccine is expected to be available in the Philippines by the third quarter of 2021.

Labella said there is yet no timeline on when the distributor can deliver the vaccine to Cebu City.

He said the supply agreement which will indicate clearer details of the purchase will have to go through the National Government under a tripartite agreement involving local governments and pharmaceutical companies.

The City has in place a P400 million budget for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines, half of which or P200 million will be used to buy AstraZeneca once the vaccine’s reported issues are cleared. Cebu City also plans to purchase P100 million worth of Covovax.

In choosing which brands to procure, Labella said the Vaccine Board considers the transmission of new variants of the coronavirus.

Labella also trusts the authorities tasked to examine and approve the use of the vaccines. (JJL)