The National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) said on Thursday it recorded more vaccine wastage brought about by the onslaught of Typhoon “Odette” but did not say how much was lost.
In a briefing, Dr. Kezia Rosario of the NVOC said they have recorded more wastage than the 100 vials of Pfizer vaccine that were initially reported wasted due to power outages in Iloilo.
“We are providing guidance on several ends because our priority remains to be the vaccine’s safety if they were affected by the temperature fluctuation and such,” she said in Filipino.
Rosario said vaccines that floated on floodwater, vaccines in refrigerators that floated on floodwater, vaccines that went more than four hours without power, and vaccines whose labels had peeled off must be considered wasted.
She said their teams had just returned from visiting local government units to assess the vaccine wastage and the status of the cold chain storage.
The Dinagat Islands provincial health office has continued with vaccination efforts despite the damage wrought by Odette.
Provincial health officer Dr. Jillian Lee said a surge in COVID-19 cases in the province is a definite possibility within the coming weeks.
“There’s a possibility we’ll experience a surge in like after two weeks to a month,” Lee said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
This is mainly because of the damage caused by the typhoon to both hospitals and containment centers for cases, Lee said.
The Dinagat District Hospital suffered 90 percent damage and is now cramming people sick from water-borne ailments and other diseases.
This and other provincial infirmaries lost equipment such as mechanical ventilators to the storm.
The provincial care and containment center where cases were housed near the capitol was destroyed.
Home-based isolation could also prove difficult with many homes lost.
Before the typhoon, the province listed 22 active cases.
Vaccinations are being held at the province’s emergency operations center and are open to anyone.
Lee added some residents who feared getting jabs were convinced to get vaccinated.
The pace of vaccinations is slow this time—around 20 people per day compared to 100 daily before the typhoon.
Lee said vaccination could be their only chance to check the spread of COVID-19 or at least prevent severe cases.
“Our hope is to continue the vaccination efforts so that in the event the virus will spread, at least the majority of our cases will be asymptomatic or mild,” she said.
Meanwhile, across the sea in Surigao City health care efforts are focused for now on immediate concerns following the typhoon.
Mayor Ernesto Matugas Jr. said over the weekend the city stopped its vaccination efforts before Odette hit, which also coincided with the national government’s three-day mass vaccination drive.
The city gym and schools used as vaccination sites were also damaged by the storm.
Matugas said residents have more immediate concerns, such as finding food and rebuilding their homes.
The people’s minds aren’t on the vaccine. The DOH wants to take our vaccines before it expires because it’s not our priority right now,” he told ABS-CBN News on Sunday.
Surigao City still has no power, while telecom lines are slowly being reconnected.
Regional health officials are working on the disposition of the area’s more than 5,000 vials of Pfizer vaccines, which need cold storage facilities for preservation.