There will be a “slight delay” in the delivery of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines to the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday.
The DOH earlier said the first batch of the omicron-targeted jabs might arrive by the end of March.
“’Yung bivalent vaccine medyo nagkakaroon lang tayo ng kaunting delay,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.
Vergeire cited the expiration of the country’s state of calamity on December 31, which provides immunity from liability as required by manufacturers and donors.
“So, ngayon ito lang po ang hinihingan natin ng guidance coming from the Office of the President if we can enter into this agreement with this immunity from liability and indemnification clauses na nakapasok diyan,” said Vergeire.
The DOH has secured more than one million doses of Pfizer’s bivalent vaccines from COVAX facility, the United Nations-backed international vaccine-sharing scheme.
Bivalent vaccines are modified jabs that target the omicron variant and the original form of the virus.
The DOH earlier said it would administer the first batch of adapted jabs to healthcare workers and senior citizens.
They should be given four months after the last shot.
In the briefing, Vergeire said those eligible must already have their first boosters.
Should the bivalent vaccines arrive, she said these would be integrated into the country’s overall COVID-19 vaccination program.
“Our program for the monovalent vaccines will continue. The vulnerable will be prioritized for the bivalent jabs. So nothing will be wasted,” Vergeire said.
The DOH had confirmed that total COVID-19 vaccine wastage was estimated to hit over 50 million by the end of March.