NegOcc not accepting COVID-19 vaccines temporarily

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The provincial government of Negros Occidental has temporarily stopped accepting COVID-19 vaccines from the national government, due to storage problem.

“As of now, we cannot accept additional vaccines, because our ultralow freezer is full,” said Dr. Claudelia Josefa Pabillo, who is in charge of the Provincial Health Office Cold Storage facility.

Pabillo said that she was asked by the Department of Health Monday night if their storage facility can accommodate more vaccines.

PHO officer, Dr. Ernell Tumimbang, earlier said that Negros Occidental will receive additional supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Before accepting more vaccines, we have to first dispose of those in the storage facility,” Pabillo said.

While she cannot give the exact number of vaccine doses stored in the facility, she said they have more stocks of Pfizer with violet and orange caps. The vaccine doses with violet caps are authorized for use in individuals 12 years and older and diluted prior to use, while those with orange caps are for pediatric vaccination, or children below 12 years old.

Pabillo said she expects that the DOH will ask them again on May 19 if the storage facility can accommodate additional vaccines.

She admitted that the vaccination rate among senior citizens in some Negros Occidental local government units remained low.

She attributed this to the hesitancy of senior citizens due to the perceived side effects of the anti-COVID vaccines.

Pabillo said that some elderly, who experienced chills and body aches during the primary vaccination, fear that they will experience similar side effects if they get the booster shot.

Others, according to Pabillo, are complacent due to the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Even for booster shots, the vaccination rate is minimal, she noted.

With the elections over, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson reiterated his call for local chief executives, especially in areas with low vaccination rate, to actively campaign for inoculation.

On the other hand, Pabillo said they have yet to receive a replacement of expiring vaccines from the COVAX Facility.

She also noted that DOH usually sends vaccines to the province, a week before their expiration, but with the shelf-life extension of up to three months./GB