MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday reminded local government units that COVID-19 jabs should be stored separately from food, as this is not a part of the country's protocol on vaccine handling.
The statement from the department came amid reports that some localities supposedly have contracts with food chain suppliers tapped for storing and transporting vaccines.
"Sinabi na po natin na (we already said that) the vaccines should have a separate storage, it should not be mixed with food kung mayroon man tayo (if we have)," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a public briefing.
"Makikita natin baka 'yung ibang local governments, dahil mayroon tayong 2 to 8 degrees lang na mga bakuna, baka naisasama sa mga pagkain sa refrigerator at hindi po ito tama," she added.
(Maybe some local governments mix the vaccines with food, because there are vaccines that can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees, in a refrigerator but this is wrong.)
Video courtesy of PTV
In late January, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. told local government units and private companies to observe national government-set vaccine cold storage standards and not just resort to their own refrigeration measures.
This, he said, would prevent wastage of the vaccines.
Zuellig Pharma Philippines, a top pharma-grade logistics provider, also explained earlier that vaccines cannot be kept in just “any freezer.”
While most vaccines will only require regular refrigerator temperature, messenger RNA vaccines such as that of Pfizer and Moderna require ultra cold storage to keep the doses frozen.
For example, US-based Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, while China's CoronaVac can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, Sputnik V, developed by Russia's Gamaleya Institute, should be stored in a dark place with temperatures not over -18 degrees Celsius.
The government is on its third month of rolling out its vaccination program against the respiratory disease, and has already administered nearly 2.7 COVID-19 shots to Filipinos. This is still a long way to the goal of inoculating 70 million to achieve herd immunity.