CEBU CITY — At least 170,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Central Visayas have been wasted after they expired due to ongoing power outages after Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) devastated the region in December last year.
According to the Visayas Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC), as of Feb. 28, 171,703 doses of COVID-19 vaccine that could have vaccinated 171,703 people have been wasted.
Vaccine waste could refer to unopened vials that could not be used due to breakage, expiration, temperature deviation and contamination, the VVOC said.
Suspended Vax drives
dr Mary Jean Loreche, VVOC spokeswoman and chief pathologist at the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas, explained that most of these vaccines expired when Central Visayas was hit by Odette, wreaking havoc in Cebu provinces. Negros Oriental and Bohol.
“Let’s remember that there was Typhoon Odette. Many of the vaccines were about to expire at the time,” she said.
Loreche pointed out that the typhoon disrupted power in the area, including at hospitals and other healthcare facilities that stockpile COVID-19 vaccines for several weeks.
The lack of stable electricity and internet connection had prompted local governments to halt their vaccination campaigns, resulting in the vaccines not being used before they expired.
Central Visayas has received around 10.1 million COVID-19 vaccines from different brands. Of these, 8.9 million have already been managed.
According to VVOC, 6.5 million people in Central Visayas are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. As of March 10, 61.42 percent, or at least 4 million, in the region were fully vaccinated.
Given the number of vaccines received and used in the region, the number of wasted doses can be considered “minimal”, Loreche assured.
“Most of these already expired vaccines would not have expired without Typhoon Odette. We were unable to carry out the vaccination because the infrastructure was affected, power and connectivity were out and the workforce was mainly affected by the disaster,” she said.
“Whatever we do, it will always waste vaccine,” she added. – NESTLE SEMILLA
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