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Duterte orders house-to-house COVID-19 vaccination as doses near expiration

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday pushed for a house-to-house anti-COVID-19 vaccination program particularly in the countryside amid the expected expiration of millions of vaccine doses in the next few months.

Duterte made the remark at his weekly Talk to the People days after presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said that 27 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines would expire in July.

“The vaccines are here and ready to be utilized, just in case. A good number ng mga Filipinos remaining, refusing to be vaccinated. Wala na tayong magawa," Duterte said.

"The most we can do, last minute program, is we embark on a program i-deliver natin ang vaccines sa bahay-bahay sa bukid,” he added.

Duterte asked the New People's Army (NPA) not to harm healthcare workers who would conduct the house-to-house inoculation in far-flung areas.

“Kayong mga NPA, 'wag niyong barahin ang mga taong aakyat dyan, especially the health workers," Duterte said.

"Sa totoo lang on grounds of humanity eh kung gusto niyo magpabakuna ipasali ko kayo pero huwag ninyong, do not derail the program that is what I am trying to tell you,” he added.

Taxpayers' money

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon criticized the government for the impending wastage of the expiring vaccine doses.

“More than two years into the pandemic, the IATF still manages to mismanage the government’s response to the pandemic. It is unconscionable that the vaccines that were purchased through loans could end up in the garbage,” Drilon said.

“It is criminal neglect if they let that happen. I’d like to remind the DOH and the IATF that it is Juan dela Cruz who will pay for these vaccines,” he added.

The minority chief noted that the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccines was among the reasons why the Philippines' debt stock increased from P9 trillion to P12 trillion as of February 2022.

At a P500 per dose rate, Drilon said the Philippines might be wasting around P13.5 billion should the 27 million expire.

Duterte on Tuesday night said the government bought vaccines commensurate to the needs of the population.

"Alam mo, ang bakuna nandiyan para sa lahat ng Pilipino. In-order natin 'yan," Duterte said.

"Ngayon, kung may mga Pilipino na marami pang hindi nakapagbakuna o
ayaw magpabakuna, hindi naman kasalanan ng gobyerno na magbili tayo
commensurate to the number of Filipinos that would be vaccinated sana," he added.

"There’s no excess actually, binili natin yan, we will try to maximize vaccines. Kung 'di magamit itatapon talaga natin 'yan," Duterte said. 

'Theoretical expiration'

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III called the 25 to 27 million vaccines that will expire in July “theoretical expiration.”

He said the wastage rate in the country was at 1.54% which was below the indicative wastage rate accepted by the World Health Organization.

"So ang layo we are still okay,” Duque said.

Duque said among the doses that would expire were those bought by the private sector, and local government units, as well as donations from the COVAX facility.

“Ang shelf life ng bakuna is really up to six months only unlike drugs and medicines they can last up to three years ang kanila pong expiration. Ang inabiso sa simula’t simula pa lang maiksi na talaga ang kanilang shelf life," Duque said.

"But what has the government done we continue to apply for the extension of the shelf life and we have done these for Sinovac, Moderna, Sputnik Gamaleya,” he added.

“Maganda naman at nabigyan tayo ng extension pero ang iba sumasailalim pa sa pagsusuri ng ating FDA (Food and Drug Administration) para malaman yung integrity, safety, efficacy, and stability nung mga bakuna na pinapaextend natin,” Duque said. —NB, GMA News