DOH: Contingency plans in place to secure COVID-19 shots amid Luzon power outages

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2021 05:10 PM

DOH: Contingency plans in place to secure COVID-19 shots amid Luzon power outages 1
A health worker shows a vial of the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech during its rollout at the Makati Medical Center on May 12, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) assured the public on Tuesday that vaccination operations in the country have contingency plans for the storage of COVID-19 vaccines, as rotational power outages hit Luzon. 

In a statement sent to reporters, the health department said the National Vaccination Operations Center has given guidance and instructions to regional and local vaccine operations centers, implementation units, and vaccination sites in anticipation of potential brownouts due to low power supply amid high demand in Luzon. 

The sites, according to the agency, are tasked to ensure that "contingency plans are in place, simulation activities have been conducted, and that back-up power sources are available."

"They are also mandated to closely monitor and report the temperature of their cold storage," the statement read. 

COVID-19 vaccines need low-temperature storage. 

Earlier in the day, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) placed the Luzon grid under red alert supposedly due to supply issues amid high power demand due to intense hot weather in the country.

The energy department had also advised cold storage facilities in Luzon to continue operating despite the rotating power outages, which could last for up to an hour. 

While most vaccines 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.

Sputnik V, developed by Russia's Gamaleya Institute, on the other hand, should be stored in a dark place with temperatures not over -18 degrees Celsius. 

As of Sunday, the Philippines has administered 5,180,271 COVID-19 shots, nearly 4 million of which are considered first doses. 

More than 1.2 million Filipinos, meanwhile, are fully vaccinated against the virus. 

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