By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The provincial government of Negros Occidental yesterday received a shipment of 1,950 vials of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines from the Department of Health.
Dr. Zeaphard Caelian, head of the Provincial Incident Management Team (PIMT), said the 1,950 vials they received is equivalent to 11,700 doses and can inoculate 5,850 people.
Caelian said the vaccines, stored in two specialized boxes, arrived at the Bacolod-Silay Airport via a Cebu Pacific flight at around 8:14 a.m. yesterday.
The PIMT head said one box containing 975 vials was transported to the Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City, while the remaining vials were transported to the provincial government’s ultra-low cold storage facility in Bacolod City.
“This is the first batch of the Pfizer vaccines received by the province,” Caelian said.
He also said they are expecting additional brands of COVID-19 vaccines such as Moderna vaccines after their slated arrival later this month in Metro Manila, although he said their exact arrival in Negros Occidental has yet to be determined.
He further stated that he will leave the decision to the Provincial Health Office as to which category they will distribute the Pfizer vaccines.
Currently Negros Occidental is vaccinating those under the A1 (frontline health workers), A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (persons with comorbidities) categories.
With the arrival of the Pfizer vaccines, Caelian hopes that vaccine demand will further increase, especially as Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson has become “quite concerned” over the rising number of COVID-related fatalities in the province.
Caelian again enticed the Negrenses to get vaccinated, pointing out that even though there is still a small chance that a vaccinated individual can still get infected with COVID-19, the vaccines can help reduce the chance of hospitalizations and even deaths.
Meanwhile, the PIMT head said they have already launched the simultaneous mass vaccination in all 31 of the province’s local government units (LGUs) yesterday morning.
Caelian said the PIMT made the deliveries of the vaccines to the LGUs under the strict supervision of Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz.
LGUs must consume the vaccines given to them, and any unused vaccines must be returned, Caelian said, adding that the new system eliminates vaccine spoilage.
Around 13 vehicles, most of them ambulances, were tasked to deliver the vaccines to the LGUs and they were also assigned to pick up the unused jabs in the afternoon./DGB, WDJ