AN estimated 148,678 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were reported destroyed in a blaze that hit the Provincial Health Office in Zamboanga del Sur last Sunday, October 31, 2021.
According to the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, among those destroyed in the fire were 9,176 doses of AstraZeneca; 14,400 doses of Moderna; 88,938 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines; at 36,164 doses of Sinovac vaccines.
It was learned that the AstraZeneca vaccines were allotted for the second dose and were scheduled for delivery on Wednesday while the Moderna vaccines were supposed to be used for pediatric vaccination.
Part of the Pfizer vaccines were allocated for Pagadian City and were temporarily stored at the provincial cold storage facility since the city’s ultra-low freezer is already full, while the others were scheduled for distribution to other local government units (LGUs).
The Sinovac vaccines, on the other hand, were not yet distributed because some LGUs refused to accept the said brand.
The three-storey building hit by the fire serves as the cold-chain storage facility for COVID-19 vaccines of 26 municipalities and one city in Zamboanga del Sur.
The NTF assured that the destroyed vaccines will be replaced immediately.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, who is also NTF vice chairman, ordered the DILG and the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct an investigation of the incident and also asked the Philippine National Police and Bureau of Fire Protection for a speedy probe on the matter.
A “show cause order” will also be issued on the provincial government of Zamboanga del Sur for its failure to deliver the vaccines in three days after it received the vaccine supply.
“May this unfortunate incident be a reminder to all local government units to ensure the safety and security of these life-saving vaccines,” ayon sa NTF.
“To avoid similar incidents happening in the future, 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 NTF added.