Philippines to receive 4 million syringes for COVID-19 jabs

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Philippines to receive 4 million syringes for COVID-19 jabs
A health worker prepares a dose of the BioNtech Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination for seafarers at a stadium in Manila on July 15, 2021.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines stands to receive some four million syringes that will be used to administer COVID-19 vaccinations, the National Vaccination Operation Center (NVOC) said yesterday.

NVOC head and Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said these syringes form part of the 44 million syringes that were procured by the country through the United Nations Children’s Fund.

“Some four million are supposed to be delivered starting the other day and yesterday,” she said in a radio interview.

Three weeks ago, the DOH reported that there was a shortage of 0.3ml syringe that is used to administer mRNA vaccines like the jabs of Pfizer and Moderna.

As an alternative, the Department of Health (DOH) had allowed COVID-19 vaccination sites to use “tuberculin syringes” as an alternative to 0.3ml syringes. Tuberculin syringes are used to deliver small dosage to recipients and usually used for tuberculosis drugs.

AZ shelf life extension

The NVOC said yesterday that it is looking at the possibility of extending the shelf life of AstraZeneca vaccines that expired on Nov. 30.

According to Cabotaje, they are checking the batch number of the AstraZeneca jabs to determine if they can still be administered. “There is an incident in Canada wherein the shelf life (of the vaccines) was extended based on some stability data,” she said.

Almost 15,000 doses of AstraZeneca jabs reportedly expired last Nov. 30 after some local government units (LGUs) in Negros Occidental refused to accept them because the vaccines were near expiry. The vaccines were part of the 45,300 jabs delivered to the province on Nov. 8.

For her part, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the shelf life extension had already been done with Pfizer vaccines after the pharmaceutical company applied for an extension with the Food and Drug Administration.

8 million jabbed

The government has vaccinated over eight million Filipinos or almost 90 percent of its target nine million individuals for the three-day nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive, Malacañang announced yesterday.

“Over 8.01 million total vaccines administered in three days or equivalent to 89.06 percent of our committed target,” Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said, adding that some LGUs extended the immunization campaign “as a response to the flood of people wanting to get vaccinated in their respective jurisdictions.”

The government is planning to hold another round of the nationwide vaccination drive from Dec. 15 to 17 amid the threat of the new Omicron variant.

National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday that the government has vaccinated 70 percent of the total target population for vaccination. He noted that as of Dec. 1, a total 55,415,753 individuals have already been vaccinated with at least one dose, representing 71.84 percent of the country’s target population.

“More than 55.4 million now have at least one dose. Meaning, we can really achieve our 54 million fully vaccinated individuals before the end of the year, especially that our massive vaccination program continues,” Galvez added.

Among the regions, Metro Manila recorded the highest vaccination coverage, administering at least one dose to 112.16 percent of its target population.

Six other regions have vaccinated more than 70 percent of their target population with at least one dose. These are Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Northern Mindanao.

The NTF chief likewise expressed thanks to all the health care workers and volunteers that made the three-day NVD possible. Galvez also thanked the French government, GAVI and UNICEF for donating 1,632,900 doses of AstraZeneca through the COVAX Facility. The delivery arrived on Dec. 1.

The country welcomed 1,082,250 doses of Pfizer vaccine procured by the government through the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The batch arrived on Thursday at NAIA Terminal 3 aboard Air Hong Kong flight LD456. Some 222,300 Pfizer doses procured by the government are set to arrive tonight aboard Air Hong Kong. – Helen Flores, Jose Rodel Clapano, Rudy Santos, Edu Punay

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