22k AstraZeneca vax now available in Bicol

By Mar S. Arguelles


Some 22,000 doses or 2,200 vials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have arrived on Wednesday, Mar. 10 at the Legazpi City Domestic Airport on board the Philippine Airline (PAL) flight, the Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol said.


Noemi Bron, DOH public affairs chief, said the arrival of the vaccines contained in three cooler boxes were supervised by DOH medical staff that immediately transferred the cargo to a waiting refrigerated cargo van at the airport tarmac.


A convoy of police and health workers transported the cargo to the DOH storage facility for inventory and safekeeping.


The new delivery is part of the 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines that arrived last week in Manila from COVAX, the global vaccine pool recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).


A vial of AstraZenica vaccine developed by the Oxford University can inoculate 10 people with an efficacy rate of 62-90 percent.


Dr. Rita Ang Bon, DOH vaccination program coordinator, said the arrival of the new batch of vaccines is intended for government healthcare workers in various local government units who have already submitted the requirement based on the DOH deployment criteria.


Ang-Bon said the deployment protocols include: availability of storage facility, list of referral facility, vaccine recipients including a pre-assessment study that determines who are willing to be vaccinated, health workers who wanted to be inoculated but are ineligible because they are senior citizens, and those who are suffering from comorbidities.


When asked about the deployment of the AstraZenica vaccines, she said they could not yet allocate the deployment in provinces as they are still waiting for the list from the Covid-19 referral hospitals across the region.


She said so far 6,000 single vials of Coronavac, the vaccines produced by Sinovac, were already delivered to four government hospital, such as the BRTTH, BMC, BRGHGmC, NICC, and the Estevez Hospital, a private referral hospital in Legazpi City.


Dr. Ferchito Avelino, DOH assistant regional director, expressed concern over the low vaccination rate of health workers in the four government hospital saying that only 25 percent or 1,500 of the targeted health workers have been vaccinated so far since Mar. 5.


Avelino said “I urged our health workers that are eligible for the SinoVac vaccine to take the opportunity to take the jabs and not wait for other brands.”


DOH vaccination tracker indicates that as of Mar. 9, some 1,805 health workers were alredy inoculated by the SinoVac vaccines.