Vaccine czar wants 4 Metro Manila hospitals to get first batch of COVID-19 doses

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 3) — Employees of four government hospitals used as COVID-19 referral hospitals in Metro Manila may receive the first batch of coronavirus vaccines that will arrive in the country this month if the recommendation of vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. is approved.

Galvez suggested prioritizing the vaccination of around 56,000 medical frontliners and hospital staff at the Philippine General Hospital, Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium or Tala Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, and the East Avenue Medical Center with the 117,000 Pfizer doses that will be supplied through the COVAX facility, an initiative led by the World Health Organization.

"Yun po ang gusto naming mangyari, na by institution kasi mas madali po ang mag-roll out kunyari buong PGH... So lahat doctor, nurses, at personnel, ligtas na 'yung buong institution. Mas madali 'yon kaysa mangyari na kalat-kalat, wala po tayong matapos," he said on Tuesday.

[Translation: We want to do the rollout by institution. So all doctors, nurses, and personnel there will be vaccinated, the institution will be protected. That is easier, that is better than spreading out the vaccines and not completing anything.]

The WHO has recommended to use vaccines from COVAX to protect healthcare workers in the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic

PGH spokesperson Jonas del Rosario said their healthcare workers and personnel will get vaccinated based on the priority list, in particular the doctors, nurses, and technicians dealing with COVID-19 patients.

Other COVID-19 referral hospitals next

Galvez said other public and private hospitals nationwide treating a number of COVID-19 patients will be next in line to receive the vaccine.

"Dahil limited lang po iyong 117,000 doses which can only accommodate more less 58,500 nurses, doctors and medical personnel ay magkakaroon po tayo ng priority kung ano po iyong major public hospitals na COVID hospitals [like] Southern Philippines Medical Center, Vicente Sotto and other government hospitals," he said on Wednesday.

[Translation: We will prioritize major public hospitals like the Southern Philippines Medical Center, Vicente Sotto, and other government hospitals since we have limited supplies. The 117,000 doses can only accommodate 58,500 nurses, doctors, and medical personnel.]

Dry run for distribution of storage-sensitive vaccines

Galvez said it will also help officials conduct a mini rollout to show how they will deploy sensitive vaccines that will require ultra-cold storage, such as the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. Galvez said the distribution of Pfizer vaccines will be rolled out in major areas first that have ultra-low temperature freezers for vaccines, such as Metro Manila, Cebu City, and Davao City. It could eventually be carried out in Calabarzon, Central Luzon, General Santos City, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga City.

He said the recommendations will be presented to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Thursday for discussion.

"We will be recommending na i-limit muna sa major areas so that we can handle it perfectly kasi kung idi-dispose natin kaagad sa mga different areas there is no way na mahahandle natin mabuti," he said.

[Translation: We will recommend to limits its use in major areas first so we can handle it better. If we immediately send it to different areas, we wouldn't be able to handle that well.]

The country is set to receive 117,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines n the second or third week of February through the WHO-led COVAX facility. The government will also apply for 900,000 more Pfizer vaccine doses. This is in addition to up to 9.2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines by late February or early March — if the vaccine gets emergency use listing from WHO.