DOH assures COVID-19 jab sites prepared for power outages, heavy rains

Robie de Guzman   •   June 4, 2021   •   198

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday assured that COVID-19 vaccination sites across the country have contingency measures and protocols in place in case of power outages or heavy rains.

In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said vaccination sites have backup generators to be used in case of power interruptions to ensure the storage and quality of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

“Ang ating vaccination sites have been instructed to always be prepared for any type of disasters,” Vergeire said.

If a vaccination site lacks backup generators, this will have to be transferred to bigger facilities within the locality.

“Kung ang vaccination site mo, unang-una walang appropriate backup or option kapag nag-brownout, kailangang ikaw ay lumipat doon sa ating mas malaking vaccination site within the local government or pwede namang humingi ng tulong doon sa regional vaccines operation cluster natin.” she said.

“Meron po tayong mga ganitong pamamaraan para hindi masira ang bakuna,” she added.

Vergeire said regional health authorities have been instructed to inspect vaccination sites and storage facilities within their areas to prepare for the rainy season and possible power outages.

The Luzon power grid this week was placed under red and yellow alerts for three straight days due to the low power supply allegedly brought about by the planned and unplanned shutdown of some power plants.

Quezon City opens nighttime COVID-19 vaccination for workers

Robie de Guzman   •   June 16, 2021

The Quezon City government on Wednesday announced it has launched a nighttime vaccination program, which will open at 6 p.m. or after working hours to accommodate employees who cannot take time off from work or visit a vaccination site during the day.

In a statement, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said the vaccination program, dubbed “QC Bakuna Nights,” aims to expand the reach of the city and immunize workers whose only free time is in the evening.

“Para ito sa mga manggagawa natin na hindi naman makaliban sa kanilang trabaho para makapagpabakuna sa karaniwang oras na 8am-5pm. Lalo na ‘yung mga arawan ang sahod,” Belmonte said.

“Ngayon, hindi na nila kailangang mamili kung arawang kita ba muna o bakuna. We will inoculate them at a time most convenient to them,” she added.

The city government also said on Wednesday that for the first time, around 2,000 pre-registered frontline personnel under the A4 category will be inoculated at the Quezon City Hall Grounds.

Senior citizens vaccinated vs COVID-19 should still avoid public places: DOH exec

Robie de Guzman   •   June 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Elderly people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should still avoid going to public places as they remain vulnerable to contracting the viral disease, a health official said Wednesday.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said vulnerable groups, including senior citizens, should still stay at home because only a small part of the country’s population has been vaccinated.

“Ang bakuna can prevent hospitalization and death pero puwede ka pa rin magkaroon ng COVID-19,” he said.

“So kailangan, lalo na kung vulnerable kayo, dapat wag muna magsilabas, lalo na ang mga seniors kasi ang population natin konti pa ang nabakunahan,” he added.

Vega said senior citizens who have completed their vaccination doses should only go to public places when at least 50 percent of the community has been vaccinated.

“That would lessen the transmission of the virus to the vulnerable group,” he said.

When going outdoors, elderly people should follow public health protocols such as wearing of face mask and observing physical distancing. They should also avoid staying in places that are not well ventilated.

“Alam naman nila kung paano nata-transmit yung virus, dapat kung sa indoor sila, pwede silang lumabas as long as they are [following] minimum public health standards. Iwasan po nila yung crowd gatherings, iwasan nila ang pagkain sa loob ng institutions na hindi maganda ang ventilation,” Vega said.

The government has been vaccinating priority groups, including healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), persons with co-morbidities (A3), and essential workers (A4), since it rolled out its COVID-19 immunization program in March.

As of June 13, the Philippines has administered a total of 6,948,549 COVID-19 vaccine doses. Of this, 5,068,855 are first doses, and 1,879,694 are second doses.

Around 479,034 senior citizens have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

The government is urging eligible populations belonging to priority groups A1 to A4 to register, get vaccinated and complete the required number of doses as scheduled.

It also advised the vaccinated population to continue practicing the minimum public health standards as they may still get infected with COVID-19 and infect other people.

QC gov’t eyes cutting ties with firm behind eZConsult over vaccination booking woes

Robie de Guzman   •   June 16, 2021

The Quezon City government on Wednesday said it is “seriously considering” terminating its contract with Zuellig Pharma Corporation, the firm behind eZConsult, after some residents complained of difficulty booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said she has issued an ultimatum to Zuellig Pharma Corporation to upgrade its system and provide all the deliverables by Friday, June 18, as agreed in a meeting held last week.

“If not, we have no other choice but to contract another company that can do the job quickly and efficiently,” Belmonte said in a statement.

Belmonte made the pronouncement after residents reported problems in accessing eZConsult services since March 27.

“Kaya natin kinuha ang serbisyo ng eZConsult ay para mapadali ang proseso ng pagpapatala ngunit ano ang gagawin natin kung ang sistema nila mismo ang ugat ng problema,” she said.

“We have already improved our system in vaccination centers where people no longer have to fall in line and go through the entire vaccination process within a maximum of 45 mins. Dapat kahit virtual pila wala din sa QC as long as vaccine supply is stable. Yet eZconsult is putting all our efforts down the drain,” she added.

In addition to terminating its deal with Zuellig, the Quezon City government is also mulling suing the company for damages if it fails to meet its contractual obligations to the local government by Friday.

The local government said City Attorney Orlando Casimiro already wrote Zuellig Pharma Corporation, through its general manager Danilo Cahoy, demanding liquidated damages in connection with the technical failures of eZConsult.

“If the improvements promised to the city are not honored as is contained in the contract, we will initiate contract termination proceedings and file appropriate charges against them as deemed appropriate by our city legal counsel to enforce and protect our rights and the interests of QCitizens,” Belmonte said.

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