BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
A total of 14,620 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines with November 30 expiration dates have gone to waste after a local government unit in Negros Occidental refused to accept it, preferring to use other vaccines available with longer expiration dates.
Dr. Claudelia Josefa S. Pabillo, Negros Occidental designated cold chain coordinator, yesterday said that the 14,620 shots of non-utilized vaccines form part of the near-expiry 45,300 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that arrived in Negros Occidental on November 8.
Pabillo said that batch of AstraZeneca vaccines were given preference for distribution to Negros LGUs upon arrival.
With expiration dates near, she reported that some LGUs were hesitant to accept it, and they also signified the intention to use other available vaccines.
Pabillo said there was no intent to waste the limited resources of the government. She however stressed, that the welfare of the recipient has to take primary consideration in the decision-making process.
Provincial Inter Agency Task Force action officer Rayfrando Diaz yesterday said that local government units did not accept near-expiry vaccines.
“We value our vaccines. We want to use them. We do not delay. But we value more the vaccinees,” Diaz said.
We don’t want to inject about to expire or expired vaccines, he stressed. Which would come first, we will utilize all vaccines to be expired, or we will take care of our vaccinees,” he asked, noting that its potency decreases as the period of expiry nears.
Diaz clarified that the AstraZeneca vaccines that came from the Department of Health is separate from the similar vaccines purchased by the provincial government of Negros Occidental.
Pabillo said that the unutilized and expired vaccines are being stored separately in a cold storage facility, to avoid a mix up with other vaccines, for its proper disposal since it is a biological product. Eventually, they will be returned to DOH, with the spent vials, she added.*