BOC vows immediate release of COVID-19 vaccines once supply arrives in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2021   •   436

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Tuesday assured it will immediately facilitate the release of vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) once they arrive in the country.

The BOC said it has started inspecting warehouses in various international airports, and coordinated with concerned government agencies in preparation for the arrival of the vaccine supply in the country.

The government’s task force on COVID-19 response earlier said that the first batch of vaccines approved for use in the Philippines may be delivered starting next month.

BOC spokesperson Atty. Vincent Maronilla said they met with concerned agencies to discuss the protocols, permits and facilities needed for the arrival and processing of the approved vaccines.

Maronilla added that they have also conducted a study on how to expedite the process of issuing clearances and identified possible bottlenecks in the system to ensure that the vaccines’ release will not be delayed.

“Our time release study that we actually conducted in preparation for this particular importation, tumingin na kami ng proseso namin, nag-streamline na kami ng proseso naming, inidentify na namin yung mga bottlenecks na pupwede,” he said.

“When we say bottlenecks, marami rin kasi magpaparating ng ibang items hindi lang yan di ba? That it will be mere hours when this arrives at our airports and its release through the Bureau of Customs,” he added.

Maronilla said the bureau will also draft a reporting system that will allow the public to keep track the delivery of the vaccines.

“Part of the measures that we are going to undertake is also a regular report to the public… A public report for us to be transparent on how many vaccines have we processed, how many have we released similar to that which we adopted during the height of the pandemic para sa PPEs,” he said.

“Para aware ang taumbayan kung ilan talaga yung pumasok, may na-delay ba at hindi na-delay pra maiwasan natin ng misinformation, kumalat ang fake news,” he added.

The BOC said it will also put up a One-Stop-Shop for vaccines at the airports that will accommodate and assist incoming importations to fast-track the clearance process. RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

Cebu City to start vaccination on March 4 after receiving Sinovac jabs

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

Cebu City is eyeing to begin its COVID-19 immunization program on Thursday, March 4, after receiving thousands of doses of CoronaVac vaccines developed by Chinese firm Sinovac.

Some 7,200 doses of Sinovac jabs donated by the Chinese government arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport at around 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

The vaccines were then delivered to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City for storage.

More than 2,000 medical frontliners at the VSMMC initially registered for vaccination, but according to hospital chief, Dr. Gerard Aquino Jr., many of the vaccine recipients backed out after learning about the brand of the vaccine delivered.

“Initially we submitted the first, there are about 2,900 but lately kay siyempre, when we were informed nga lain ang brand so we have also to inform them,” Aquino said.

“So I think as of yesterday, we have 600 but it keeps on increasing kasi as of yesterday nakita naman nila (ang pagbakuna sa) mga health worker sa Manila,” he added.

Aquino also noted the importance of conducting information drive to increase public confidence and to prevent any misinformation about the vaccines.

“Plus, dapat we did some information campaign talaga kasi sad to say, meron talagang mga misinformation,” he said.

Aquino said he will be the first to receive the Sinovac jab to lead by example and dispel doubts on COVID-19 vaccination.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac but did not recommend its use for health workers caring for COVID-19 patients due to its lower efficacy rate of 50.4% based on clinical trials conducted in Brazil.

The Department of Health (DOH) previously stressed that the FDA’s recommendation on Sinovac was not a contraindication and that this does not prohibit healthcare workers from getting the Sinovac jab.

The DOH urged frontliners to take the available vaccine to give them protection against the virus.

The agency, however, stressed that medical frontliners will not be forced to take the shot and that they will not lose their priority status if they choose to decline the Sinovac vaccine shot.

The Philippine government on Monday formally rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination program to several hospitals in Metro Manila after receiving the donated vaccine doses from China on Sunday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Ryan Mallari)

Davao City receives Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of doses of CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in Davao City on Tuesday as the government continues its vaccination campaign against the viral respiratory disease.

Some 12,000 doses of CoronaVac developed by Chinese firm Sinovac aboard an airplane arrived at the Davao International Airport around 6:45 a.m.

The COVID-19 vaccines were brought to the Department of Health Regional Office for storage.

Some 12,000 doses of SINOVAC vaccines for Covid-19 arrived at the Davao International Airport, Tuesday morning.These…

Posted by City Government of Davao on Monday, March 1, 2021

The city government said the first batch of vaccines will be used to vaccinate over 8,000 frontline workers, primarily those in the healthcare sector in Davao City and Tagum City.

The immunization will start on Friday at the Southern Philippines Medical Center where 3,000 healthcare workers will be first inoculated.

Of these number, around 150 frontliners are expected to receive the vaccine on the first day of the vaccination.

SPMC officer-in-charge Dr. Ricardo Audan, Davao City COVID-19 focal person Dr. Ashley Lopez, and DOH regional director Annabelle Yumang will be among those to be vaccinated in the city. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Marisol Montaño)

IATF OKs use of Sinovac COVID-19 vax for healthcare workers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has agreed with the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) to use Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare workers, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said NITAG experts have concluded that the vaccine will be beneficial and is sufficient to be used for healthcare workers despite its lower efficacy rate of 50.4% for those frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on Monday, issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac but did not recommend its use for health workers caring for COVID-19 patients due to its lower efficacy rate based on clinical trials conducted in Brazil.

Vergeire stressed that the FDA’s recommendation on Sinovac was not a contraindication and that this does not prohibit healthcare workers from getting the Sinovac jab.

“Ultimately, the EUA of FDA establishes the safety and efficacy of Sinovac and our experts have ruled that SINOVAC’s 100% efficacy rate in preventing moderate and severe cases is indeed sufficient to meet the goal of reducing deaths — protections which we want to afford first and foremost to our healthcare workers,” she said.

Experts from NITAG also emphasized that the vaccine is safe and that they themselves are prepared to receive a shot.

“In our deliberations what we looked at it is safety to ensure the vaccine is safe that has been borne out by the review of the trials,” Dr. Marissa Alejandira, DOH-TAG member, said.

“As for myself, as a healthcare worker who sees COVID-19 patients, I am willing to take this vaccine,” Dr. Edsel Salvana, also a DOH TAG member, said.

They, however, stressed that medical frontliners will not be forced to take the shot and that they will not lose their priority status if they chose to decline the Sinovac vaccine shot.

The DOH said it is now finalizing details on how to allocate the 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses expected to arrive on Sunday, February 28. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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