Nearly 150,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines damaged in Zamboanga del Sur fire
Close to 148,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were damaged in a fire that broke out of the Provincial Health Office of Zamboanga del Sur on October 31, the National Task Force vs COVID-19 said in a statement Tuesday.
Based on initial reports, the fire destroyed 9,176 doses of AstraZeneca, 14,400 doses of Moderna, 88,938 Pfizer-BioNTech, and 36,164 doses of Sinovac vaccines, as well as routine immunization vaccines allocated for the province.
The three-storey building which is occupied by different offices and departments of the provincial government also served as the provincial cold chain storage facility for COVID-19 vaccines allocated for 26 municipalities and one component city.
''The National Task Force against COVID-19, together with the Department of Health, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the National Vaccination Operations Center, are closely monitoring developments in the incident’s investigation,'' the task force said in a statement.
NTF Vice Chairman and DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has ordered a thorough investigation of the incident that will be carried out by the DILG and the Department of Health.
The DILG has tapped the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection and its regional offices to ensure a speedy investigation.
The DILG will also issue a show cause order to the provincial government of Zamboanga del Sur for their failure to deliver the vaccines three days after the receipt of the supplies.
The AstraZeneca vaccines were allocated as second doses and were scheduled for deployment on November 3. The Moderna vaccines were meant for the pediatric vaccination rollout for vaccine recipients ages 12 to 17 years old, which was scheduled to begin on November 3 as well.
A quarter of the Pfizer vaccines that were damaged were allocated for Pagadian City and were temporarily stored at the provincial cold storage since the city’s ultra-low freezer was at full capacity.
Meanwhile, a half of the Pfizer doses were meant for the province’s vaccination rollout, while another quarter of the supply were scheduled for deployment to other local government units.
The Sinovac vaccines were not delivered immediately because there were LGUs that refused to accept the vaccines due to vaccine brand preference.
''We would like to assure the residents of Zamboanga del Sur that the NTF and NVOC will replenish all the damaged vaccines, especially those meant for citizens who are scheduled to get their second dose soon. The vaccine doses will be shipped immediately as soon as the new cold storage is ready for use,'' the task force said.
To avoid these incidents, the DILG and DOH are reiterating to all LGUs at the municipal, city, and provincial levels to ensure that safety officers are reporting 24/7 in all COVID-19 cold chain facilities and warehouses.
The task force will keep track of the vaccine deployment and distribution to ensure that vaccines will only be stored in provincial cold storage facilities for a maximum of three days. NTF vs COVID-19