Underdosing risk? Some health workers extracted more than prescribed doses from AstraZeneca vaccine vials

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2021 09:29 PM | Updated as of Apr 07 2021 12:26 PM

MANILA — Even after the Department of Health warned health workers not to extract more than 10 doses from AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine vials, government data showed that it happened not only in the Bicol Region but also in Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao.

In the government’s Vaccine Statistics infographic showing data as of March 30, in addition to Bicol region (Region 5), Eastern Visayas (Region 8), and Northern Mindanao (Region 10) also showed more than 100% of doses administered.

In the notes, it stated that “implementing units in Region 5, Region 8 and Region 10 were able to maximize the doses obtained from the AstraZeneca vials, hence the utilization rate.”

According to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, the doses administered in excess as of March 30 were 120 for Bicol region, 190 for Eastern Visayas, and 2,881 for Northern Mindanao.

Last March 26, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while health workers might want to reduce wastage of vaccines, they should also not be extracting more than the prescribed 10 doses per vial since it might result in administering less than the required dose.

On Tuesday, ABS-CBN News again asked Vergeire what has been done to address the over-extraction of doses.

“They were asked to stop the practice and just limit the number of doses to the indicated doses in the EUA (emergency use authorization),” she said in a text message.

Asked what will happen to the patients who received the doses, she said, “We just monitor. Basically its okay. It’s just that we want to align with the indications of the EUA.”

The emergency use authorization document for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine specifies that the country will receive 5 mL of solution in a 10-dose vial. 

Each dose should be 0.5 mL each. It is unclear if each vial can contain more than 5 mL.

So far, only 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines have been delivered to the Philippines through the COVAX Facility. It is the only vaccine in the country that can be administered to senior citizens. 

Another shipment of the said vaccine was delayed due to problems with the global supply.