Expired Covid-19 vaccines a worldwide problem: expert

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

March 23, 2023, 5:37 pm

<p><em>(PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)</em></p>

(PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – Continuous education and appealing to people’s sense of community could address the country’s low coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination and booster shot turnout, a health expert said Thursday.

“I think that the problem is, siyempre takot na takot lahat noon ang mga tao at the start, ang bilis nung uptake (people were scared at the start, the uptake was quick then),” infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvaña said in a televised public briefing.

“Pero, psychology lang po talaga iyan na kapag hindi naman nila nakikita na clear ang present danger, medyo nagiging ningas-kugon ang mga tao, hindi nila pina-prioritize (But that’s really psychology. If they don’t see the present danger clearly, people do not prioritize vaccination)."

Earlier, Department of Health Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the total wastage for the entire Covid-19 vaccination program amounted to 44 million doses. She noted that the wasted jabs included those that have expired and were damaged due to fire, temperature excursions, natural disasters, and other incidents.

Health experts say that the problem of expired or wasted vaccines is a worldwide issue.

“Iyong mga ibang bivalent vaccines nga sa US sobra talaga nilang na-stockpile. Kahit noong pumunta ako doon noong October, hindi naman ako US citizen tinurukan pa rin nila ako dahil nag-request ako (The bivalent vaccines in the US are in stockpile. When I went there in October, they gave me a shot even if I’m not a US citizen because I requested it),” Salvaña said.

“I think continuous education is important, and at the same time, very important to appeal to the sense of community ng mga tao na kapag mataas ang ating level of community immunity ay mas napu-protektahan po natin iyong more vulnerable members of society (of individuals that when the level of community immunity is higher, we protect the more vulnerable members of society),” he added.

To date, about 78,443,972 or 100.4 percent of the country’s target population (78,100,578) have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and a total of 23,811,248 individuals have received booster shots.

About 1,002,000 doses of bivalent jabs – donations of the COVAX Facility – are expected to arrive in the third or fourth week of this month. (PNA)