Press Release
May 16, 2021

With life-saving vaccines wasted in Cotabato

Senator Nancy Binay has urged the Department of Health to reiterate to local health units the need to strictly follow vaccine handling protocols.

At least 348 vials of Coronavac had been rendered unusable in Makilala town in Cotabato after local health workers left the vials in a freezer without electricity for two days.

"Checking if the vaccines are in good condition is the most basic of things. Vaccines are a very precious commodity in these times. Yung ilang minutong brownout nga lang nabubulabog na tayo, what more kung two days? Sayang ang mga bakuna. Kapag dumating ang mga ganitong sitwasyon at walang contingency, dedma na lang ba?" Binay asked.

The senator cited the need for checklists and briefers that LGUs and provincial health facilities can refer to in case sensitive situations arise such as brownouts, typhoons, floods, or the lack of storage facilities.

"Let's avoid oversight and carelessness on the ground given the complicated handling and logistics involved in bringing the vials to islands and far flung provinces. Ulit-ulitin po sana ng DOH ang pagpapaalala sa mga LGU na sundin ang handling protocols nang hindi masayang ang mga bakuna," Binay said.

She also called on LGUs to introduce redundancies and constant monitoring in their processes to eliminate possible lapses.

"Di naman siguro kailangan pa tayong umabot sa point na kumuha ng 'Pridyider Czar' para lang i-monitor kung nasa maayos na storage ang mga bakuna. SOP na dapat ang constant checking and counter-checking sa bawat stage ng proseso. Yung nangyari sa Cotabato, simple lang naman ang tanong: 'Meron lang bang nag-abalang silipin kung naka-ON ang freezer?'" Binay pointed out.

The senator likewise urged the same vigilance from the DOH to "guarantee the quality from source," as she recalled the 7,500 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that had to be recalled from the Bicol region in March due to suspect handling.

While the health agency has since reported that the recalled vaccines in Albay were still in good condition and could still be used, there should be no more "close calls" especially as the bulk of vaccines are expected to arrive soon.

"The upcoming months will see an influx of vaccines whose quality should be ensured from source to destination. I really hope the DOH will take another look at its protocols and seek to leave no room for error during crunch time. Given the shortage of vaccines, yung mga ganitong mishandling are totally unacceptable," Binay said.

She added: "Gawin nang tuloy-tuloy seven days a week ang inoculation. Sayang ang panahon lalo pa ngayong maraming emerging epicenters ng Covid."

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