South Cotabato still undecided on choice of Covid-19 vaccines

South Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 05 February) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is yet to decide on the vaccines to use against Covid-19, saying it is currently studying several available brands as it stepped up preparations for the rollout of its own vaccination program.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., head of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said they are specifically looking at the viability and efficacy of the vaccines in building immunity against the disease, especially with the emergence of mutant strains in other countries.

He said among those being explored are the vaccines developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and United States-based Pfizer, which were issued last month with emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

“We’re also considering the cost of the vaccines and the logistical aspect, especially in terms of storage,” he said in a press conference in Koronadal City on Thursday.

Aturdido said South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo earlier committed that the province will purchase its own vaccines to augment those that will be delivered by the national government

He said the governor already directed the local government’s finance committee to determine the funding requirement for the implementation of a province-wide vaccination program.

As part of the process, he said they are currently gathering the necessary data to establish the number of residents that are eligible for Covid-19 vaccination.

Citing earlier estimates of the Department of Health (DOH), he said at least 70 percent of the population, with the elderly and vulnerable persons as top priority, should be vaccinated against the disease.

The remaining 30 percent are individuals who are not covered by the recommended age range for inoculation, specifically those aged below 18-years-old, he said.

With the province’s estimated population currently at about one million, Aturdido said the target for vaccination coverage would be around 700,000 people.

The official said they also waiting for the release of the DOH’s data as to its target coverage in the province for the nationally-coordinated vaccine rollout.

“That will allow us to establish how many vaccines we should purchase and the actual cost,” he said.

As to the vaccination plan, Aturdido said they already started the planning and formulation process in coordination with DOH and the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

He said the DOH-12 recently conducted a micro planning session for the vaccination rollout in the municipal and city levels.

These plans will be consolidated later on by the IPHO to come up with a comprehensive provincial vaccination plan. (MindaNews)