LGUs told: Prepare facilities, constituents for Pfizer vaccine deliveries in August

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
LGUs told: Prepare facilities, constituents for Pfizer vaccine deliveries in August
A nurse shows an empty vial of the Pfizer Biontech vaccine Comirnaty at the vaccination center of German speciality chemicals company Evonik in Hanau, western Germany, on Mai 19, 2021, amid the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
AFP / Thomas Lohnes

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government directed local chief executives Tuesday to begin preparations for the reception, transportation, and storage of another round of Pfizer vaccines. 

In a statement, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año directed city governments to coordinate with the Department of Health as he reiterated the storage temperature requirements for the coronavirus jabs.

This comes after vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr announced that the government inked a deal with US drugmaker Pfizer-BioNTech for 40 million doses  of the vaccine.

READ: Philippines, Pfizer ink supply deal for 40 million COVID-19 vaccine doses

"I call upon all LGUs and local chief executives to start their preparation to be able to properly receive these vaccines as early as now. Time is of the essence and we must do our duty to safely bring the vaccines to the people,” said Año.

“These sensitive vaccines require additional care on our part. I echo Secretary Galvez’s call to LGUs to be ready in handling these vaccines and urge them to ensure the presence of third-party logistics and cold chain service providers,” the interior chief said.

The Pfizer jabs, which require temperatures ranging from minus 80 to minus 60 degrees centigrade, are due to be delivered in bulk in August. 

Aside from the Pfizer-BionTech vaccines, Sputnik V and Moderna vaccines also have particular storage temperature requirements. Both Sputnik V and Moderna need to be stored below 20 degrees centigrade to prevent spoilage.

Potential problems with finding freezers for the transportation and storage of the temperature-sensitive vaccines were already raised last year, with authorities saying then that they would study the situation.

Combat vaccine hesitancy, DILG urges

Interior spokesperson Jonathan Malaya added that the incoming vaccine supply is a "strong signal" for local chief executives to continue "vaccine demand generation" efforts in their localities. 

“We must continue our initiatives in combatting vaccine hesitancy and increasing overall vaccine demand in the country. We will now have the doses for our people,” said Malaya.

"Let us make our constituents aware that there are doses available for them and that all they need to do is register and get inoculated."

Despite prevalent vaccine hesitancy in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte in one of his signature rants Monday night went as far as threatening to put anyone refusing to be vaccinated behind bars. 

“Kung ayaw mo magpabakuna, ipaaresto kita. At ang bakuna ay galing—itusok ko sa puwet mo. (If you don’t want to be vaccinated, I will have you arrested. The vaccine is from—I will have you injected on your butt),” he said.

“But if you don’t want to, I will have you arrested. That is in pursuance of a policy of our crisis of this health issue,” Duterte added.

There is currently no law that allows this but government officials have frequently shown that they will rush to implement policies that the president mentions in his speeches.

READ: Duterte gives fresh arrest order for those who refuse COVID-19 vaccines

Better Christmas still targeted?

Malaya went on to claim that the country is on track to “have a better Christmas for all Filipinos.”

Though he did not mention herd immunity, experts say the Philippines is still years away from achieving 70 million vaccinated citizens, which is the criteria for herd immunity. 

The Department of Health earlier readjusted its original target to achieving “population protection” against COVID-19 instead. 

Per Our World in Data, the Philippines is among the worst countries in the world when it comes to vaccine per population. 

To date, the Department of Health has recorded 1.15 million coronavirus infections in the country, 52,291 of whom are still classified as active cases. 

READ: DOH aims for 'population protection' on way to herd immunity vs COVID-19

 with reports from Xave Gregorio and Kristine Joy Patag 


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