5 pct COVID-19 vaccine wastage 'acceptable': DOH

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2021 05:25 PM

Discarded vials of vaccinations against COVID-19 are seen as Israel continues its national vaccination drive, during a third national COVID lockdown, at a Maccabi Healthcare Services branch in Ashdod, Israel, Dec. 29, 2020. Amir Cohen, Reuters/File

MANILA - A 5-percent wastage of COVID-19 vaccines is acceptable, the Department of Health said Wednesday, noting it is inevitable in a large-scale immunization.

"We estimate that 5 percent is acceptable. We already consider that when we indicate the number of vaccines we need for the vaccination," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in Filipino during a Laging Handa press briefing.

She explained that vaccines could be wasted if they were improperly handled, stored and distributed.

In some cases, those eligible for inoculation may back out or no longer be allowed due to other medical condition, and health authorities may not be able to find an immediate recipient of the available shots.

"Pero kailangan nga, katulad ng sinabi ko, (But we need, as I have said), we have to keep it as minimum as possible because every dose will count because of these COVID-19 vaccines, which is needed badly by all of us Filipinos," Vergeire said.

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Courtesy of Presidential Communications Operations Office

Vergeire urged local government units to prepare their cold storage facilities and come up with an alternative list of COVID-19 recipients.

The Philippines targets to start immunization this month, with priority given to healthcare workers, senior citizens and uniformed personnel.

The government aims to vaccinate up to 70 million people against COVID-19 this year to achieve herd immunity.

It is working to lock in 148 million doses from 7 vaccine makers, on top of 5.6 million shots that will come from the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to the vaccines.

To date, the country has tallied over 530,000 coronavirus infections, of whom more than 10,900 have died, the second most in Southeast Asia.