With crucial settlements with key vaccine manufacturers in their final stages, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr stated last week that it is “safe to say we will be having maybe last week of February.” Pfizer’s vaccine candidate, which is the only vaccine to gain an emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA, is likely to arrive first. Sinovac and AstraZeneca will probably follow soon after with our negotiations with these manufacturers about to reach their conclusions. Once these essential vaccines arrive, our government will immediately commence its largest vaccination program to date.
One of the most daunting aspects of our nationwide vaccination is the sheer level of logistics it will necessitate. The arriving vaccines’ specific temperature needs and expiration dates must be fulfilled and closely monitored. At the moment, the government has allocated storage warehouses for vaccines requiring 2°C to 8°C and -20°C storage. These would then be shipped to DOH’s 17 regional hubs for vaccine implementation.
Pfizer, with the temperature requirement of -70°C, can only be accommodated by ultra-cold storage facilities. The government has already tapped numerous third-party companies to house and distribute these vaccines nationwide.
As announced before, certain sectors will be granted vaccination priority. These groups include our healthcare workers, senior citizens, and uniformed personnel. LGUs are tasked to form a database of priority individuals within their population. Some LGUs will be launching online registrations for easier sign-ups. A complete database would aid in managing the scheduling for first and second vaccine doses as well as post-vaccination monitoring. Health declarations through these sign-ups would be especially important since Pfizer has warned that their vaccine should not be administered to people with severe allergic reactions.
Last Monday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III likened the vaccination process to our current election procedures. Individuals to be vaccinated will be assigned to a specified time, date, and vaccination area. Our government currently has 4,512 vaccination sites in place including private and public hospitals, rural health units, and health facilities. Upon arrival to their designated site, registrants will submit their assigned QR code from pre-registration and necessary health documents. Before vaccination, participants will watch an informative video and will be given the chance to ask questions to the assigned health educators present. They will then be screened and vaccinated. A post-vaccination area is set up to monitor individuals for any immediate adverse effects. The entire vaccination process will ideally take about an hour and a half.
This massive national project will require complete participation and coordination between all concerned government units and the general public. To prepare, our government will be scheduling a detailed rehearsal of the entire operation in major cities. Various LGUs have already begun running simulations of their own vaccination program. The AFP’s clubhouse situated in Camp Aguinaldo has been assigned as the roll-out headquarters to oversee the entire country’s vaccination proceedings. With only a few weeks to go, the Philippines’ chances of overcoming this pandemic hinges significantly on the outcome of this vaccination project.
As we wait for the vaccines to be fully distributed and administered, we must continue our detection and isolation efforts for the positive cases to conduct immediate treatment and minimize the virus’ reach. MEDTEK is an official distributor of equipment and devices for antibody, antigen and PCR testing. For accredited testing organizations and LGUs interested in purchasing these products, please feel free to fill out the form below.