Over 14,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 jabs expire in Negros Occidental - officials

Job Manahan and Romeo Subaldo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2021 04:28 PM | Updated as of Dec 02 2021 08:46 PM

Galvez says AstraZeneca jabs to be re-evaluated for shelf life 

MANILA (UPDATE)— More than 14,000 doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine expired in Negros Occidental, local authorities said Thursday.

The 14,620 AstraZeneca jabs expired on Nov. 30 and were part of the 45,300 doses that arrived in Negros Occidental on Nov. 8, said Dr. Caludelia Pabillo, who is in charge of vaccine distribution there. 

Pabillo added that the COVID-19 shots did not make it to the inoculation rollout because they were close to expiry. 

There were also some cities and municipalities that preferred vaccines which would not expire soon. Aside from this, some authorities also considered the potency of the vaccines as it neared its expiry date. 

"Hindi na nagamit 'yun sa rollout sa vaccination day, ang iba kasing LGU hindi na tinanggap 'yun kasi may ibang mga available na na bakuna," Pabillo said in their dialect.

(That was not used on vaccination day because some LGUs did not accept them as there were other available vaccines.)

"They preferred to use other vaccines para mahikayat ang mga tao na magpabakuna." 

Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said the safety of COVID-19 vaccines is paramount to every Filipino recipient. 

“We value our vaccines. We want to use them. We do not delay but we value more the vaccinees. Hindi natin ginusto na magturok ng vaccine na mage-expire na or expired na (We didn't want to use vaccines that were near expiry or were already expired)," Diaz noted.

Pabillo reiterated that they did not want to waste the government's resources.

The expired COVID-19 vaccines will be returned to the Department of Health-Region 6, which are currently in a province's cold room. These are separate from other usable vaccines, according to Pabillo.

GALVEZ ORDERS EVALUATION OF NEAR-EXPIRED SHOTS

In a press briefing earlier in the day, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said they would evaluate the supposed expired vaccines whether it was still within the range of time that it could be used. 

Galvez said some vaccines' shelf life were extended and found to be safe after being evaluated by experts. 

"Pinapa-assess ng laboratory kasi most of those vaccine na tinatawag nating expiry date at shelf life, magkaiba 'yan. Mayroon tayong katulad sa Pfizer, ang expiry date is November, in-extend ang shelf life niya pagka-evaluate," Galvez explained. 

(A laboratory will assess it because a vaccine's shelf life and expiry date are different. We had Pfizer vaccines that were set to expire in November but its shelf life was extended.)

The country's vaccine czar also pointed out that some 1.2 million COVID-19 jabs delivered last October were about to expire in November. However, their shelf life was extended until February next year after being screened by authorities. 

"We will make sure na ang FDA at saka 'yung AstraZeneca at even 'yung Moderna and also other near expiry, ine-evaluate po ngayon at kina-quarantine (sic) natin," he said. 

(We will make sure that the FDA and the AstraZeneca, Moderna vaccines, and other near-expiry vaccines will be evaluated and be separated.)

"So ngayon 'yung mga ano... ine-evaluate namin ngayon 'yung lahat ng ating near-expiry date na vaccine. Kina-quarantine (sic) natin 'yan and ine-evaluate natin sa manufacturer and they will ask for possible extending of shelf life," Galvez added. 

(We are evaluating the near-expired vaccines. We are separating it from the other shots and it would be evaluated by the manufacturer for the possible extension of shelf life.)

Moving forward, the government will also ask vaccine-sharing platform COVAX to receive vaccine donations that have at least 4 months of shelf life. 

He also assured the public that the government would make sure that the vaccines made available to them are safe to be administered. 

"We will always ensure na ang mga tinuturok natin is very safe at saka talaga within the shelf life that has been regulated by the manufacturer and also our regulatory body," he said.

(We will always make sure that the shots we administer are very safe and within the shelf life.)

Video from PTV

The government this week mounted the 3-day National COVID-19 Vaccination Days in order to increase the country's inoculation output, as authorities raced against time to fully vaccinate at least the target 54 million by yearend. 

So far, the country has fully inoculated nearly 36.9 million individuals, while 51.8 million are partially vaccinated from the respiratory disease. 

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