DOH distributes bivalent Covid jabs, negotiates to acquire more

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

June 13, 2023, 9:53 pm

<p>DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa <em>(File photo)</em></p>

DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) has begun distributing the 390,000 bivalent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines donated by the Lithuanian government.

“As we speak, I think they have already been redistributed to the different region(al offices) of the Department of Health,” Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said in a Palace press briefing on Tuesday.

Herbosa noted that most of the jabs went to the National Capital Region while the rest were distributed to the other regions.

The elderly, individuals with co-morbidity, and health care workers will be prioritized in the administration of the bivalent vaccines as booster shots.

The prioritized population must be vaccinated immediately as the bivalent doses only have a six-month shelf-life upon delivery.

“So, kapag binili mo iyan (if you buy them) out of the shelf, like this one, this donation, they end on November 23, that’s the expiry date,” he said.

Although the World Health Organization has already declared an end to Covid-19 as a public health emergency, Herbosa emphasized that the public must not be complacent in its fight against the virus and get vaccinated or receive booster shots.

He explained that getting infected could still lead to death, especially among individuals with co-morbidity.

Acknowledging that the donated doses are not enough, he said the DOH is negotiating to acquire more donations and considering procurement of additional jabs.

However, there are “snags and issues,” which may slow down the procurement process, he said.

“So, the issue of the vaccine is in terms of the EUA (emergency use authorization). So, to procure it, kailangan ma-i-rehistro sa ating (they have to be registered with the) FDA (Food and Drug Administration). But, we are trying hard to get all these bivalent (vaccines),” he said.

Earlier, the DOH reported that 1.002 million doses of Pfizer's bivalent jabs from the COVAX Facility would arrive in March.

Since the declaration of a state of calamity due to Covid-19 lapsed, clauses on indemnification and immunity from liability found in the agreements with the donating countries and/or manufacturers remain key impediments to the delivery of the donated bivalent vaccines. (PNA)