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DOH exec: Bulk of latest AstraZeneca vaccine shipment to be used as first dose

The bulk of the latest shipment of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines will be allocated as a first dose to ensure that they are used up before expiring in midyear, a health official said Wednesday.

Interviewed on Unang Hirit, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said 1.5 million of the 2 million recently delivered AstraZeneca doses will expire on June 30 and the other 500,000 on July 31. 

“‘Yung 500,000, kukumpletuhin ‘yung first dose na binigay no’ng March… ‘Yung remaining 1.5 [million], ibibigay lahat as first dose so hindi na tayo maghahabol ng expiry ng July 31 for a second dose,” she said.

(The 500,000 [doses] will be used as second dose on those who got inoculated in March… The remaining 1.5 million [doses] will all be given as first dose so we won’t have to rush.)

“Siguradong ituturok na ‘yan ng buong June, lahat ng July 31 na expiring,” she added. “Tapos ‘yung second dose ibibigay na lang ng mga August, September.”

(Definitely, all doses expiring on July 31 will be administered in June. Then their second dose will be given in August, September.)

Cabotaje said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. vowed to seek other vaccines if the COVAX Facility is unable to deliver the next batch of doses on time.

The DOH previously explained that no COVID-19 vaccine has an expiry date longer than six months to allow for possible changes. 

Over 1.7 million individuals have been vaccinated in the Philippines as of May 4, still far off from the government’s target of inoculating 50 million to 70 million people this year—KG, GMA  News