Region 10 does not have storage facilities for vaccines needing ultracold temps

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 17 Feb) – Health officials here said cold storage facilities in Northern Mindanao could not reach low enough temperatures to store some vaccines against COVID-19.

Dr. Elma Oclarit, DOH Region 10 vaccine coordinator, said the Pfizer vaccine, which needs to be kept extremely cold at minus 70 degrees Celsius, is definitely not suited for Cagayan de Oro and the rest of Northern Mindanao.

“We have inspected almost all cold storage facilities in the region and most can store at only up to minus 25 degrees Celsius,” she said.

Oclarit said that with the available cold storage facilities, only vaccines like that of Moderna will be made available to residents of Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao.

Moderna’s vaccine needs to be only frozen at minus 20 degrees Celsius.

“Moderna can be stored in our regular freezers and refs in our hospitals,” Oclarit said.

Other vaccine candidates – like that of Oxford/AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac – need only ordinary refrigerators as they require temperatures ranging from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.

The DOH and the city government of Cagayan de Oro conducted a dry run to test how fast the anti-COVID 19 vaccines can be administered to residents.

Acting City Health Officer Lorraine Nery said they intend to vaccinate 80 percent of the city’s almost 800,000 residents.

Nery said they intend to set up 70 vaccination centers around the city.

“Each team will have doctors and nurses. We intend to vaccinate 7,000 residents a day,” she said.

During the dry run last Tuesday, a team of doctors and nurses were able to process a batch of 12 participants in 80 minutes.

The team was very strict with their protocols: a participant was advised to rest because his blood pressure went up.

Another participant was also rejected after the team found there were blanks on the form he had submitted.

All the participants underwent rigid consultations before and after they were “vaccinated.”

Mayor Oscar Moreno said the vaccine will arrive in Cagayan de Oro by the third quarter of 2021.

Moreno said they would be conducting more dry runs to test how fast the vaccines can be distributed to the residents.

“We have to solve the logistical problems so there will be no delays. Vaccinating an entire city will be a logistical nightmare if the kinks are not solved,” Moreno said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)