DOH sees 'slight delay' in delivery of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2023 03:34 PM

ABS-CBN News/File
Vials of COVID-19 vaccines are being prepared at a vaccination site in Makati City on July 28, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — There will be a slight delay in the delivery of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines to the country, the Department of Health said Tuesday.

The agency earlier reported that the first batch of the omicron-targeted jabs might arrive by the end of March.

"'Yung bivalent vaccine medyo nagkakaroon lang tayo ng kaunting delays," DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

(For the bivalent vaccines, we are just having slight delays.)

She cited the expiration of the country's state of calamity on December 31, which provides immunity from liability and is required by manufacturers and donors.

"So, ngayon ito lang po ang hinihingan natin ng guidance coming from the Office of the President if we can enter into this agreement with this immunity from liability and indemnification clauses na nakapasok diyan," Vergeire said.

(We are seeking guidance on this from the Office of the President.)

The DOH has secured 1,002,000 million doses of Pfizer's bivalent vaccines from COVAX facility, the United Nations-backed international vaccine-sharing scheme.

Bivalent vaccines are modified jabs that target the omicron variant and the original form of the virus.

The DOH earlier said it would administer the first batch of adapted jabs to healthcare workers and senior citizens. They should be given 4 months after the last shot.

In the briefing, Vergeire said those eligible must already have their first boosters.

Should the bivalent vaccines arrive, she said these would be integrated into the country's overall COVID-19 vaccination program.

"Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang programa natin ng monovalent vaccines... Tapos 'yung bivalent na dadating uunahin muna natin ang mga vulnerable. So, walang masasayang," Vergeire said.

(Our program for the monovalent vaccines will continue. The vulnerable will be prioritized for the bivalent jabs. So nothing will be wasted.) 

The DOH recently confirmed that total COVID-19 vaccine wastage was estimated to hit over 50 million by the end of March.

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Courtesy of DOH