Sarangani to prioritize elderly in rollout of Pfizer anti-COVID vaccines

Sarangani Province. Map courtesy of Google

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 30 September) – Health personnel in Sarangani will prioritize the vulnerable elderly or senior citizens for the initial rollout in the coming days of the province’s first batch of the Pfizer coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines.

Maria Razel Bustria, the immunization coordinator of the Provincial Health Office (PHO), said Wednesday they are targeting to cover some 2,340 senior citizens or those under the A2 priority group for the expanded vaccination.

She said they received on Sept. 28 an initial 780 vials or 4,680 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the Department of Health-Region 12.

The delivery of the vaccines to the cold chain facility at the PHO-Provincial DOH Office building in Alabel town came after the provincial government gained approval for the use of its newly acquired ultra-low freezer (ULF) unit.

Bustria said that based on their projection, the available Pfizer doses can accommodate a total of 2,340 individuals at two doses each that will be administered in 21 days intervals.

Based on the national government’s advisory, she said the vaccines may be given to individuals under priority groups A1 (front-line health care workers), A2, A3 (individuals 18-years-old and above with comorbidities), and A5 (indigent population).

But the provincial government, through Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon, decided in consultation with the PHO to allot the Pfizer shots to senior citizens due to their limited number.

“We have seen that our senior citizens are the ones who are vulnerable from the virus and since these vaccines are limited, our leaders decided to prioritize them,” Bustria said in a statement.

The ULF acquired by the provincial government, which costs P680,000, was delivered to the PHO last Sept. 15.

Bustria said the purchase of the freezer, which can accommodate 4,000 vials of vaccines needing ultra-low temperature storage, was earlier approved by the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to facilitate the delivery of Pfizer and other vaccine brands to the province.

The DOH central office said in an earlier advisory that Pfizer vaccines require storage temperature between -80 and -60 degrees Celsius, and -25 to -15 degrees Celsius for Moderna.

“Without a ULF, we cannot get the Pfizer vaccines. That’s the basic requirement for us,” Bustria said.

The provincial government has been continually expanding its COVID-19 vaccination as a strategy to contain the spread of the disease in its seven municipalities.

As of Wednesday night, the province has the lowest cumulative infections since last year in Region 12 at 5,308.

It recorded a total of 62 related deaths, also the lowest in the region, and 4,332 recoveries. It has the second-lowest active cases with 912. (MindaNews)