MANILA—The Department of Health on Monday said local government units have been given funds to buy syringes, a shortage of which has hampered immunization in some regions.
The syringes in question are specifically used for mRNA vaccines.
This came up after Sorsogon Governor Francis "Chiz" Escudero and Camarines Norte Provincial Health Officer Dr. Arnel Francisco said they received Pfizer vaccines without syringes.
"Nagkaroon po ng global shortage for this auto disabled syringes. Mayroon po kasi tayong tinatawag na ganitong syringe na ginagamit for the mRNA vaccines," Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire told Teleradyo.
(We had a global shortage for auto disabled syringes. This is the syringe used for mRNA vaccines.)
"Ito po ay naubusan kaya noong dinala sa kanila, nauna 'yung bakuna. Pero po gumawa ng paraan ang ating gobyerno by providing funds. Nagbaba po kami ng pera sa aming regional offices para bumili ng isang klaseng syringe para 'yun na muna ang gagamitin habang hinihintay natin 'yung supply natin for this auto disabled syringes."
(We did not have enough syrines, so the vaccines were delivered first. But money was sent to the regional offices, so they can buy a different kind of syringe that they can use while we wait for the supply of auto disabled syringes.)
Vergeire said this incident happened a few months ago and has already been addressed, adding that the situation in Sorsogon and Camarines Norte might just be isolated cases.
Meanwhile, Vergeire said government has yet to allow booster shots.
This meant that using privately procured vaccines as booster shots was against the law.
"Private sector has used their Moderna vaccines as boosters, unang una that is not allowed. That is a violation. Lagi po nating tatandaan, kung ano man po 'yung nakuha natin, sana naibigay na lang doon sa mga hindi pa nababakunahan ngayon," Vergeire said.
(If the private sector has used their Moderna vaccines as boosters, first of all, that is not allowed. That is a violation. We should always remember that whatever we received, it could have been given to those who haven't been vaccinated.)
"I understand that you procured that and that is your money, but that is still not allowed. Unang una, wala tayong emergency use authority for that. (First we don't have an emergency use authorization for that.) If something happens, the accountability will be with the private sector and not the government," she added.
As of November 6, the Philippines has administered a total of 64,195,936 vaccine doses, of which 29,477,961 are second doses and single-dose vaccines.