By Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo
AT LEAST 600 doses of Pfizer coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines were compromised in Iloilo due to the onslaught of Typhoon Odette, National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Monday, December 20, 2021.
Galvez said they are still investigating the magnitude of the damage in the vaccines.
“Before the tropical cyclone hit, many warehouses and hospitals had already transferred their vaccine supply to more secure facilities,” he said in a statement.
Galvez said they are closely coordinating with the Department of Energy for the immediate restoration of power supply or provision of generators in the affected areas, especially in order to continue the Covid-19 vaccination and to ensure the safety of the vaccines.
The NTF has postponed the conduct of National Vaccination Days, which were supposedly scheduled on December 20 to 22, in Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Caraga and some areas in Mimaropa due to the effects of Typhoon Odette.
“Hindi muna natin sila pine-pressure na magbakuna dahil nga napakabigat nitong sinapit nila nitong mga nakaraang araw kaya bibigyan natin sila ng panahong maka-recover,” NTF deputy chief Vince Dizon said.
(We will not pressure them to vaccinate more people because they are still struggling due to the effects of Typhoon Odette. We will give them time to recover.)
“Pero nagmo-mobilize din tayo ng teams para sa areas na kayang [magbakuna], para pwede silang magbakuna sa mga evacuation centers. Pero i-prioritize muna natin ang relief, response at rehabilitation,” he added.
(We can also mobilize teams in areas where vaccination can be done. They can hold the vaccination in evacuation centers, but we will prioritize the relief, response and rehabilitation.)
Galvez admitted that it is now a challenge to hit the country’s target of achieving population protection by fully vaccinating 54 million Filipinos by year end due to the effects of the typhoon.
“Napakalaki talaga ng devastation kay Odette (The devastation of Odette is really huge). Basically, talagang it’s a challenge for us to push for 54 million. But we are still pushing for it because the Omicron is our greater challenge,” Galvez said.
“We will try our best to hit the goal of 54 million. It’s not easy but we will keep on pushing. Give us a few days, we’ll give you what our estimated target should be by the end of the year,” he added.
Meanwhile, Galvez urged other local government units (LGUs) to further intensify vaccination in their areas especially after the detection of a third case of Omicron variant in the country.
He said the vaccination drive remains as the key in containing the virus and preventing local transmissions.
He said although Omicron seems to only cause mild infections, it can still cause deaths and upsurge in Covid-19 cases, which may again lead to high hospital occupancy.
“Sa mga LGU, i-revisit natin ‘yung ating immediate pandemic response. Mag-prepare tayo, ‘yung response natin in-scale. Idouble-up natin, tingnan natin ang quarantine facilities, hospitals, health workers,” said Galvez.
He said he already recommended to the Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) to shorten the interval for booster shots to only three months, compared to the current recommendation of six months.
As of December 20, a total of 44,212,255 individuals have completed their vaccination, while 56,290,841 received their first dose.
A total of 1,153,103 doses have been administered as booster shots. (SunStar Philippines)