Duque wary about vaccine storage in VisMin amid blackouts; DOE 'doing its best' to restore power | Inquirer News

Duque wary about vaccine storage in VisMin amid blackouts; DOE ‘doing its best’ to restore power

/ 12:51 AM December 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has expressed concern about the state of COVID-19 vaccines in storage facilities that are affected by power blackouts due to Typhoon Odette, as most vials need cold temperatures to avoid spoilage.

During the meeting to brief President Rodrigo Duterte about the situation in Visayas and Mindanao on Friday, particularly areas hard-hit by the typhoon, Duque asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to expedite the restoration of power as being unable to cool the vaccines at the proper temperature may waste the vials.


“Ang ating National Vaccination Operation Center ay nakikipag-tulungan sa ating Sandatahang Lakas upang ma-assess ang ating mga vaccination sites lalo na ang mga cold-chain management para sa atin pong mga bakuna,” Duque told Duterte.

“Nakikita rin po natin Mr. President ang posibleng mga issue sa ating mga COVID-19 test kits, at specimens kung magtatagal ang pagbalik ng kuryente sa mga apektadong lugar kaya ginagamit ko po ang pagkakataong ito na maki-usap sa Department of Energy na siguraduhin ang atin pong restoration po ng mga power lines,” he added.


In response, Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella assured Duque that teams are already moving to restore power, along with gas stations that may supply fuel to vaccine storage facilities currently running on generator sets.

According to Fuentebella, DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi is already identifying which areas have vaccine storage facilities so that they can be prioritized for energy restoration.

“We just like to make an assurance to the DOH Secretary that we are doing our best no, na mabalik po agad ‘yong mga pangangailangan for electricity and also ‘yong mga gasolinahan.  As of Tuesday, 4:00 (p.m.) we already called for a meeting for the task force energy resiliency,” Fuentebella said.

“We have already advised the distribution utilities to conduct ‘yong SOPs nila, pero importante po na hinabol ni Secretary Cusi na dapat ma-identify saan ‘yong mga bakuna para mai-prioritize na maibalik kaagad kasi baka hindi po tumagal ‘yong mga genset na nandoon kung saan tinatago ‘yong ating mga bakuna,” he added.

Fuentebella also presented a chart on the status of power in Visayas, according to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, where the provinces of Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras, and Negros Occidental are under the green status or normal operation levels.

Antique, Iloilo, Negros Oriental, and Cebu meanwhile are under the yellow category, or areas whose electric distributors are operating partially.

However, Bohol and the entire Eastern Samar are under the blue status, or where electricity is unavailable.


“Ang kuryente ay napaka-halaga po lalo na dito sa mga lugar kung saan nandoon po  ang ating mga logistics for our vaccination program,” Duque reminded.

Earlier, Vice President Leni Robredo herself attested to the lack of power in Bohol, as she went there and said that the whole province still has no electricity, leaving only solar-powered lights to operate.

Odette barreled through Visayas and Mindanao starting Thursday afternoon, hitting Surigao del Norte before moving west to the southern portions of Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, and then towards Palawan.

As of late Friday evening, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that Odette slightly weakened as it started moving over the Kalayaan Islands.

Odette is now packing maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of 205 kph.  It is still moving west northwestward at 20 kph.


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TAGS: #OdettePH, Bukidnon, cold chain facility, COVID-19 Vaccines, Department of Energy, DoE, Health Secretary Francisco Duque, Pagasa, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Philippine news updates, President Rodrigo Duterte, Typhoon Odette, Weather
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