MANILA — With hospitals running various simulations in preparation for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines, a hospital director on Friday said it is important to treat the shots as a precious commodity like gold.
“This particular project you cannot be over-prepared. You need to over-prepare with this one as the vaccine is treated as if it is gold,” said Navotas City Hospital medical director Dr. Christia Padolina.
The Philippines is set to receive its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines this month. First up in the priority list are health workers who have so far seen 82 deaths and more than 14,000 infections due to the virus.
During a University of the Philippines-organized webinar, Padolina explained the preparations they’ve made in Navotas for the vaccination of health workers, including reaching out to the power distribution company to ensure steady supply of electricity for the ultra low freezers required to store Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.
She said they would also be tapping teachers and school counselors and other volunteers to help with other tasks so that health workers could focus on the vaccination process itself.
Other hospital heads echoed Padolina’s sentiment as they explained what they are currently doing in their respective facilities.
The Philippine General Hospital, which already started its simulation for the vaccine arrival, also detailed its plans.
PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi said they even devised color-coded stickers during pre-registration to specify the kind of monitoring a health worker would need for vaccination. Those who have a risk for bleeding or taking anticoagulants are also identified so a smaller needle can be used on them.
Legaspi said they also made sure to overbook the recipients to ensure that no vaccine would be wasted.
This is similar to what the DOH already talked about — the need to have a substitution list in case 20% of the recipients do not show up.
Legaspi said they are also looking into different ways of optimizing the vaccine dose such as the use of special syringes that would allow more doses to be used in each vial of the vaccine.
Dr. Lito Acuin, hospital chief of the Asian Medical Center, said holding simulations is very important.
“It’s important to break down the process into individual steps,” he said, adding that back-up plans should be in place in case things go wrong.
But he also highlighted the need to manage the risk of having a lot of people around on vaccination day.
“We need to maintain the minimum standards of safety even during vaccination,” Acuin said.
He said the vaccination day might have “a fiesta atmosphere” with people wanting to be reunited with friends, but he said plans are in place to prevent people from crowding.
He said those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 should not be asked to line up.
Health officials earlier said that at least 70 percent of the population should receive 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before Filipinos can develop herd immunity against the virus.