171,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses wasted in Central Visayas
CEBU CITY — At least 170,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Central Visayas have gone to waste after these expired because of the prolonged power outages that came after Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) devastated the region in December last year.
According to the Visayas Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC), 171,703 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were wasted as of Feb. 28, which could have inoculated 171,703 people.
Vaccine wastage could refer to unopened vials, which could not be used due to breakage, expiration, temperature excursion and contamination, the VVOC said.
Halted vax drives
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of the VVOC and chief pathologist of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas, explained that most of these vaccines were expiring when Central Visayas was hit by Odette, which caused havoc in the provinces of Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Bohol.
“Let us remember that there was Typhoon Odette. Many of the vaccines were nearing expiry at that time,” she said.
Loreche pointed out that the typhoon cut off power supply in the region, including in hospitals and other health institutions storing COVID-19 vaccines for several weeks.
The lack of stable electricity and internet connection had prompted local governments to halt their vaccination drives, thus adding to the failure to make use of the vaccines before these expired.
Central Visayas has received around 10.1 million COVID-19 vaccines from different brands. Of the number, 8.9 million have already been administered.
According to the VVOC, 6.5 million individuals are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Central Visayas. As of March 10, 61.42 percent, or at least 4 million, have been fully inoculated in the region.
Given the number of vaccines received and used in the region, the number of doses that had gone to waste could be considered “minimal,” Loreche assured.
“Majority of these already expired vaccines would not have expired if we didn’t have Typhoon Odette. We were unable to do the vaccination as infrastructure was affected, power and connectivity out, and manpower was mostly affected by the calamity,” she said.
“Whatever we do, there will always be wastage of vaccine,” she added. —NESTLE SEMILLA
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