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

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

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - May 12, 2021 - 2:57pm

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: June 15, 2021 - 12:23pm

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)

June 15, 2021 - 12:23pm

Japan is donating AstraZeneca vaccines to the Philippines, Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko announces on his Twitter account.

"[W]e'll make sure to deliver them at the soonest possible time so no one gets left behind during this pandemic," he also says.

June 11, 2021 - 12:13pm

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo says that as far as he knows all of the sitting justices of the Supreme Court have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

He says the court asked for justices to be classified as A4. Some of the justices are also already senior citizens.

June 10, 2021 - 8:58pm

More than 2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines from the Covax facility arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Thursday night.

More than 200,000 doses will be distributed to Cebu and Davao while the remaining doses are for Metro Manila.

June 10, 2021 - 7:48am

Another 1 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine have arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Vaccination of economic frontliners, or workers in the A4 category, kicked off this month.

June 7, 2021 - 10:21am

The government marks the rollout of vaccines for the A4, or economic frontliners, category with a ceremony at a mall in Pasay City.

Around 35 million Filipinos are in the priority group, which has been expanded to include all who are required to physically report to work.

Pandemic restrictions have seen some Filipinos shift to remote work or work-from-home arrangements but many employees, especially those in the service sector, do not have that option.

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