171,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses wasted in Central Visayas

PHARMACY VACCINATION A local health official vaccinates a man at a pharmacy in Cebu City as officials from the national pandemic task force look on in this February 2022 photo. – NESTLE SEMILLA

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.

A young girl receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in early March at a mall in Mandaue City, Cebu, as part of the ongoing rollout of vaccination to minors aged 12 to 17.

FIRST SHOT A young girl receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a mall in Mandaue City, Cebu, in early March as part of the ongoing rollout of vaccination to minors aged 12 to 17. NESTLE SEMILLA

‘Minimal’

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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At Least 21,000 Vaccine Doses Wasted During ‘Odette’ Attack – DOH Exec
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