DOH says vaccinations to continue despite lapse of COVID-19 'state of calamity'

Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 06 2023 07:53 PM

MANILA – Vaccination using existing COVID-19 jabs in the government stockpile will continue, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

This despite the lapse of the country’s state of calamity last December 31, 2022.

In a media forum Friday, Health Officer-In-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the laws specifically gave a validity of one year for the emergency use authority of vaccines after the lapse of the state of calamity.

“That is what we are using now as basis for us to have continuity in this COVID-19 vaccination program,” Vergeire said.

She added that after the end of the state of calamity, “the DOH now goes through the usual mode of procurement for vaccines."

This means that procurement must now be in line with RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act specifically provisions on negotiated procurement.

Section 53 of the law provides that negotiated procurement may be allowed during emergency cases where “to avoid loss of life, injury, disease and other negative effects on human, physical, mental and social well-being."

Vergeire said that country currently has a total of 17,488,050 vaccines stored in warehouses, 6 million of which are quarantined.

“This means we are still awaiting evidence and the application of the manufacturers for us to extend shelf life.”

Some doses, according to Vergeire, have expiration dates by the middle of the year, while others will expire within the first quarter of 2023.
Aside from monovalent vaccines, the government is also slated to procure bivalent vaccines which protect against Omicron and its sub variants.

“Meron din tayong alok na donasyon galing sa ibang bansa para dito sa bivalent vaccines. We are working on that so that we can also receive within the first quarter ito pong mga bakuna na kelangan ng mga sektor ng ating populasyon,” Vergeire said.

The DOH continues to encourage Filipinos to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. This despite the agency observing a plateauing trend in cases and healthcare utilization remaining low risk.