DOH: Bulk of AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots soon to expire to be given as first dose

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
DOH: Bulk of AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots soon to expire to be given as first dose
Health workers and other members of vaccine proriority groups receive their second shot of Sinovac's COVID-19 jab at Marikina Elementary School on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The bulk of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines set to expire soon will be administered as first dose, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the more than two million AstraZeneca vaccine doses that arrived in the country over the weekend will expire in June and July.

To avoid wasting the limited supplies of shots, Vergeire said 1.5 million jabs will be administered as the first dose, while the remaining 500,000 will be allocated as the second dose.

“We have distributed already and we are speeding up vaccination. We’ve seen that we can consume the vaccines and they will not go to waste,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the government should allow the private sector to distribute AstraZeneca vaccines as millions of jabs near expiration.

“The government should just give the stocks that will expire in June to the competent private sector then let them do the vaccination,” Leachon said in a tweet.

“We’re still at the 40,000 to 60,000 vaccinations per day. At this rate, we can never finish the AstraZeneca 1.5 [million] stocks that will expire in June. We’re just halfway through them. What a waste,” he added.



Widen vaccination

Leachon also said the government should start vaccinating the next priority sector, A4, which is comprised of frontline workers in essential sectors.

But Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, who chairs the national vaccination operations center, said the AstraZeneca shots cannot be given to those who are not included in the priority list of the COVAX facility.

“AstraZeneca came from the COVAX facility. The priorities are A1, A2 and A3 so we cannot give them to other areas,” she said, referring to healthcare workers, senior citizens and people with comorbidities.

Cabotaje also said the government plans to increase the average number of daily vaccinations to at least 70,00.

Vaccination in the country has been slow with 514,655 people being fully inoculated since the immunization program began in March, far from the government's goal of vaccinating 70 million. Meanwhile, over 1.19 million individuals have received first doses.



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 4, 2022 - 9:06am

The national government has so far secured two official deals for COVID-19 vaccine supplies in the Philippines, one with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac and another with the Serum Institute of India.

Watch this space for bite-sized developments on the vaccines in the Philippines. (Main image by Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

January 4, 2022 - 9:06am

Government must increase vaccination capacity across the Philippines in anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant of the corona virus, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

She says local government units and the private sector can work together to put up more vaccination centers and deploy more vaccination teams to get more people inoculated against COVID-19.

"The active COVID cases have nearly doubled in three days. The positivity rate is almost four times the ceiling set by the World Health Organization. Huwag na nating hintayin na sobrang lumala pa ang sitwasyon bago tayo gumawa ng paraan para mapabilis ang ating pagbabakuna."

December 23, 2021 - 11:44am

FDA chief Eric Domingo says that its agency has given emergency approval for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

November 11, 2021 - 7:30am

The United States immunized around 900,000 children aged five-to-11 against Covid in the first week the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for them, a White House official says Wednesday.

Roughly 700,000 more have made appointments at pharmacies, White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients tells reporters.

"The program is just getting up to full strength," he says, adding most of the shots were given in the last couple of days alone. — AFP

November 8, 2021 - 7:56pm

The Philippines has received 2.8 million doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines from Russia.

The shipment arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Monday night and was met by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

November 7, 2021 - 11:57am

A Department of the Interior and Local Government proposal to require Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries to get vaccinated before cash transfers to them can be released will not help the poor, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

"Walang kundisyon sa 4Ps law na kailangang COVID-19 vaccinated ang recipients kaya dapat igalang at irespeto ng ating mga opisyal ang desisyon ng sinuman ukol sa pagbabakuna," she says. 

(The 4Ps Law does not include the condition that recipients must be vaccinated against COVID-19 so the government must respect people's decision to get vaccinated or not)

She says it would be better for government agencues like the social welfare and health departments to encourage 4Ps beneficiaries to get vaccinated but not as a condition to receive cash aid.

Hontiveros says encouragement and explanations have helped address vaccine hesitancy in Metro Manila.

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