Explain failure to deliver vaccines, Zamboanga del Sur LGU told

Roel Pareño - The Philippine Star

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The provincial government of Zamboanga del Sur has been asked to explain why it failed to deliver COVID-19 vaccines within three days after receiving the supply.

Interior Secretary and National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) vice chairman Eduardo Año discovered lapses in vaccine distribution in the province after more than 100,000 doses were destroyed when a fire hit the maintenance and supply area of the Department of Health (DOH) provincial office building in Pagadian on Sunday.

“The DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) will issue a show cause order to the provincial government of Zamboanga del Sur,” Año said. “May this unfortunate incident be a reminder to all local government units (LGUs) to ensure the safety and security of these life-saving vaccines.”

Año said the DOH reiterated its call to LGUs to ensure that safety officers would check COVID-19 cold chain facilities and warehouses around the clock to avoid a similar incident.

He said the NTF would ensure the strict enforcement of a DILG memorandum for intensified monitoring mechanisms to ensure that vaccines delivered from the national warehouse will be immediately distributed to implementing units across the province.

“The incident should serve as a wake-up call to our local chief executives to closely monitor our vaccines and inject them immediately to our countrymen,” the DILG chief said.

Local leaders and observers in Zamboanga del Sur claimed that “political infighting” among provincial and local leaders caused the delay in the vaccination rollout.

“Let us keep in mind that vaccines are gold. One dose equals one life saved. Protecting and ensuring the safety of these vaccines should be a primordial concern in all levels in the government,” Año said.

“If there should be an investigation into those who are slow in the implementation of the vaccination program, we will provide corresponding sanctions on those who will be found to have shortcomings,” he said.

At least 9,176 doses of AstraZeneca, 14,440 doses of Moderna, 88,938 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 36,164 doses of Sinovac were reportedly among the vaccines destroyed in fire.

The NTF said the AstraZeneca vaccines were allocated for the second dose while the Moderna vaccines were supposed to be used for the rollout of pediatric vaccination yesterday.

The China-made Sinovac vaccines were reportedly not delivered immediately because some LGUs refused to accept them due to brand preference.

Vaccines for hepatitis, measles and polio were also destroyed in the fire. – Helen Flores

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