DOH finalizing list of vaccine recipients in health sector

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    THE Department of Health yesterday said it is finalizing a master list of healthcare workers who will be among the priority recipients of vaccines for COVID-19.

    Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a briefing said the master list is expected to be completed this month. Government has been saying the national vaccination program is expected to start later this month with the arrival of the first batches of vaccines procured abroad.

    “We had the pre-submission of this master list, wherein we sourced it from almost all health facilities,” Vergeire said.

    “We are still waiting for it to be completed. But we are assured that we can complete this by February 15,” she added.

    Vergeire said the initial list involves the profiles of health and non-healthcare workers, like janitors and other maintenance personnel, in frontline health services.

    Vergeire said this will be followed by a list of the most-at-risk individuals, such as senior citizens and those with comorbidities, to be done by local government units.

    “We need to list down all that are at-risk and are vulnerable so that we can have an orderly system of immunization,” she said.

    Some 1.7 million frontline health workers identified last year are among the first priority for the vaccine. At least 14,400 health workers have been infected with the virus as of this month.

    Vergeire said hospitals, health facilities, and LGUs have been advised to link their respective systems interface with the COVID-19 Electronic Immunization Registry (CEIR).

    “With all of these systems in place, we can ensure a seamless integration of data coming from all sectors, coming from all areas, and that it will be unified into just one platform,” said Vergeire.

    The CEIR was developed by the DOH and the Department of Information and Communication Technology.

    PGH immunization

    The Philippine General Hospital said it is prepared to inoculate its employees, both health and non-health workers, numbering around 5,000.

    In a radio interview, PGH spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario said they want to complete the immunization program in just a week’s time.

    He said priority will be given to health workers, such as doctors and nurses.

    Vergeire said there will be a very small window for wastage of the vaccines.

    “We have what we say acceptable level of wastage of 5 percent. That is what we use whenever we estimate the number of doses to procure,” she said.

    “Nevertheless, we have to keep it as minimum as possible because every dose will count because this COVID-19 vaccine is needed badly by all of us Filipinos,” she added.

    Vergeire said vaccine wastage may occur when those in the vaccine priority list suddenly withdraws, or suddenly becomes ineligible and no replacement can be found.

    She said it may also happen when there is erroneous storage, or handling of the vial, which will result in the vaccines being left unused.

    Vergeire said the shortage in vaccine supply makes it imperative to store, handle, and administer those properly.

    She said there is a need for the vaccine administrators to be prepared with alternative recipients.

    The Philippines will not be affected by the export control program of the European Union on COVID-19 vaccines, the regional bloc’s delegation to the country yesterday said.

    In a statement, the EU delegation said export of the vaccines to the Philippines and 91 other low- and middle-income countries covered by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment list are not covered by the export ban.

    “Their will be no impact to the Philippines as well as to other poor countries as export to these countries are exempted from the export ban,” it said.

    “Through COVAX, the Philippines will receive vaccines for 20 percent of its population, with a first shipment expected at the end of February,” it added.

    Earlier, President Duterte criticized the regional bloc, saying it is holding up the global supply of the vaccine as he complained that wealthy countries have cornered the supply. – With Ashzel Hachero