VACCINATION sites in Central Visayas are not ready to administer the Sinovac vaccine to senior citizens aged 60 and above on Monday, April 12, 2021, according to the Department of Health regional office (DOH 7).
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said they have to wait for additional supplies that will be allotted specifically for senior citizens.
“There is no rerouting of the available Sinovac to the senior citizens. We wait for the delivery of the supplies for them,” she said in a text message to SunStar Cebu on Friday, April 9, 2021.
Central Visayas has received a total of 134,160 doses of vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), consisting of 104,160 doses of Sinovac and 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca.
Only about half have been used as Loreche said a total of 70,367 health workers belonging to the Priority Group A1 have been vaccinated as of April 8.
As of March 31, a total of 131,781 persons under A1 are eligible for vaccination in the region.
The Sinovac vaccine, known as CoronaVac, was originally approved for adults 18 to 59 years old. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, allowed its use for senior citizens in light of the limited supply of vaccines in the country and the suspension of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for adults under 60 years old.
Following its approval, the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 instructed all regional and local vaccination operations centers to begin administering the Sinovac vaccine to senior citizens on Monday, April 12.
Senior citizens, who belong to Priority Group A2, are also eligible for vaccination along with the health workers under A1 and the persons with comorbidities under A3.
City Health Department (CHD) officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones said 20 medical frontliners who are at least 60 years old were given the Sinovac vaccine after the FDA cleared it for the senior citizens.
The DOH 7 has allocated another 2,700 doses of Sinovac vaccines for Cebu City.
Ibones said they will use these remaining vaccines for the around 2,000 medical frontliners in Cebu City who have not been vaccinated before proceeding to the senior citizens.
In the meantime, he said they will step up the information drive to encourage the senior citizens and persons with comorbidities to get the vaccine.
As of April 9, Ibones said around 12,000 senior citizens have already registered for vaccination.
As of Friday, he said no one has experienced severe adverse events following immunization (AEFI).
“So far, so good. One person experienced a mild adverse event yesterday (April 8), but it was resolved and the person was allowed to go home,” he said.
Among the estimated 4,500 medical frontliners who have been inoculated, one was also sent to a hospital for an increased heart rate. But this was resolved after about two hours of monitoring, Ibones added.
Meanwhile, Loreche said there are two possibilities for adults under 60 years old who have received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the wake of its suspension.
If additional supplies are available by the time the second dose becomes due and the suspension is lifted, Loreche said they may receive their second dose.
But if additional supplies don’t arrive and the suspension is not lifted, Loreche said the vaccinee will be inoculated with a different vaccine as first dose after 90 days. The second dose would then be administered as scheduled.
Both the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines are given in two doses. The Sinovac vaccine is given 28 days apart while the AstraZeneca vaccine is given 12 weeks apart.
The DOH central office on Thursday, April 8, adopted the recommendation of the FDA and the Vaccine Expert Panel to suspend the use of AstraZeneca vaccines for those under 60 years old amid reports linking it to rare cases of blood clots with low platelets.
The FDA earlier said no such cases were documented in the Philippines, but it was taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of Filipinos.
The WHO, in a statement on April 8, said the link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the rare cases of blood clots with low platelets is “considered plausible but is not confirmed.”
It noted that the cases are very rare compared to the almost 200 million individuals who have been inoculated with the vaccine.
The WHO stressed that administration of vaccines is based on a risk versus benefit analysis.
“Rare adverse events following immunizations should be assessed against the risk of deaths from Covid-19 disease and the potential of the vaccines to prevent infections and reduce deaths due to diseases,” the WHO said.
“In this context, it should be noted that as of today (April 8), at least 2.6 million people have died of Covid-19 disease worldwide,” it added. (WBS / JJL / SUNSTAR PHILIPPINES)