After not getting a share of the first batch of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines that were flown to the country last month due to the lack of facilities, Bohol will now receive jabs produced by the American drugmaker which will be stored in the ultra-cold storage freezer of the Department of Health-run Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital, a DOH-7 official said.
DOH-7 spokesperson and chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche on Friday morning confirmed to the Chronicle that the province will be allocated 11,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
According to Loreche, the jabs will be transported to Bohol using specialized containers as these need to be kept in ultra-low temperatures to maintain their efficacy.
The DOH however has yet to confirm when the vaccines will be shipped to Bohol.
“Depende pa na sa coordination sa among cold-chain management officer padulong diha sa Gallares,” said Loreche.
Loreche said that it was the decision of both Mel Feliciano, retired major general and chief implementer of the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) in the Visayas, and DOH-7 director Dr. Jaime Bernadas to include Bohol in the list of recipients for the Pfizer vaccine doses.
The official added that in Central Visayas only Bohol will be getting a share of the Pfizer doses outside of Metro Cebu.
“That is only for Metro Cebu and Bohol primarily because Negros Oriental and Siquijor do not have yet [facilities],” said Loreche.
For his part, Bohol IATF spokesperson Dr. Yul Lopez said that a third of the Pfizer vaccine doses which were allocated for Bohol will be stored at the GCGMH facility while the rest will be kept at the Tagbilaran City local government’s ultra-cold storage unit.
Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Sec. Michael Lloyd Dino earlier announced that 210,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were flown directly to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport from the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility on Thursday.
The doses were part of the 2.27 million Pfizer vaccines that were flown from the COVAX facility to the country, particularly Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao. The doses made up the largest single-batch delivery of any brand of vaccine to the country.
Bohol left out
Earlier, the Provincial Government of Bohol led by Gov. Art Yap drew heavy flak from the public as Bohol was left out in the distribution of the sought-after vaccine due to the lack of ultra-cold storage facilities in the province.
The Provincial Health Office led by Lopez noted that the province does not need to spend on an ultra-cold storage equipment as he claimed that the Pfizer jab will only make up “two to five percent” of the country’s vaccine portfolio.
Lopez’s stand was echoed by Yap who said that he was not willing to spend on an ultra-cold storage facility.
Yap said the amount should be spent instead on preparations in receiving jabs from other pharmaceutical companies in the country’s vaccine inventory that do not require ultra-cold storage.
“Gusto pa ba ninyo na mo gasto pa ta sa pipila ka million para sa cold storage na magamit ra nato para sa vaccine and after that, we will not be able to use that anymore?” Yap said.
“Ang decision sa Sangguniang Panlalawigan ug sa provincial government dili sa. Gamiton muna nato ang kwarta nato sa immediate preparations for vaccinations, mass arrival of mass vaccines,” he added.
The governor also claimed that the metropolises of Manila, Cebu and Davao were the only areas which will receive the Pfizer vaccines due to their capability to store the vaccines.
Bohol will be getting a share of the newly delivered Pfizer jabs after the GCGMH coordinated with the DOH-7 to announce that it now has an ultra-cold freezer and after the Tagbilaran City government purchased its own ultra-low temperature freezer.
Pfizer for areas with capacity
In Luzon, the latest donation of Pfizer vaccines from the COVAX will mostly go to Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Batangas, Baguio City, and other areas with “third-party solutions” for the jabs’ storage requirement, said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez on Thursday.
“So we advise local government units to acquire third-party providers so that all the warehouses are equipped with the ultra-low cold chain solution. We limit only those areas where the electricity is stable. Pfizer is very sensitive (it must be stored) at -80 degrees, so we will only deploy it on areas that we have a stable cold chain solution,” Galvez told reporters in an interview.