DOH: Some 8 million vaccine doses to expire by October

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) — The Department of Health (DOH) said about eight million COVID-19 vaccine doses are set to expire by October this year.

However, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said they were still waiting for word from the Food and Drug Administration on the possible extension of the shelf life of millions of vaccines.

"Ang atin pong to expire would be around 15.3 million, pero dito sa 15.3 million na ito tatanggalin natin yung almost seven million na inaantay pa natin ang desisyon ng FDA together with the manufacturers who have applied kung mare-reextend yung shelf life," Vergeire said at a briefing on Tuesday.

[Translation: The ones set to expire would be around 15.3 million, but from that number we would be taking out almost seven million because we are waiting for the FDA's decision, along with manufacturers who have applied to see whether the shelf life would be extended.]

"So pag tinignan ho natin, we have from March until October na tinitignan na to expire na vaccines, and these would comprise around eight million, kasi tatanggalin natin yung mga naka-quarantine which are waiting for reextension," she clarified.

[Translation: When we look at it, we are seeing around eight million vaccines set to expire from March to October because we are excluding those udder quarantine waiting for a reextension.]

However, the DOH did not say when they FDA could give an answer on when the re-extension for the vaccines would be granted.

At a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probe last week, the DOH earlier said vaccine wastage could exceed 50 million doses by the end of the month.

Vergeire explained that wastage does not only cover vaccines that are expiring.

"Kapag pinag-usapan ang wastage it doesn't just include expiring vaccines but also those operationally ay na-waste because of other reasons katulad ng nasunog, lumubog sa dagat. Meron din dahil sa temperature excursions and so on and so forth," she said at Tuesday's briefing.

[Translation: When we talk about wastage, it doesn't just include expiring vaccines but also those operationally wasted because of other reasons like these were burned, sank in the sea. There is also temperature excursions and so on and so forth.]

In a bid to prevent further wastage, the DOH said it will bring vaccines closer to people.

"Ano yung forward measures natin? Katulad nung nasabi namin nung nag Blue Ribbon Committee sa Senate, sinabi that we are now making the vaccines closer to our communities kung saan tinalaga na natin na naintegrate natin ang COVID-19 vaccination sa regular programs ng ating local facilities," said Vergeire.

[Translation: Our forward measures include taking the vaccines closer to our communities where we will integrate the COVID-19 vaccinations to the regular program of local facilities.]

She added this meant any time the public would want to get vaccinated, they would only need to go to any health center to get the COVID-19 jab.