DOH 7: Dose 2 of AZ arriving in time for interval due

THE Department of Health (DOH) 7 has appealed for patience from healthcare workers who are still awaiting the arrival of a new set of the Oxford AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine to get their second dose of the vaccine.

In a virtual press briefing on Friday, May 7, 2021, Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, assured the vaccines will arrive before the maximum allowable time interval for the administration of the first and second dose of the AZ vaccine which is from four to 12 weeks.

Loreche has been receiving inquiries from healthcare workers regarding their second dose.

DOH 7 received a total of 30,000 AZ doses which were all administered as the first dose.

“We have received information that there will be doses of AZ that will be rolled out here to comply with the dose 2 of those healthcare frontliners given AZ,” she said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

“I am sure it will arrive in time for the maximum 12 weeks interval, and, of course, we understand that it is still okay if the interval will be more than the mandated 12 weeks,” she added.

Loreche also addressed the issue raised by some local government units, such as Talisay City, regarding the allocation of vaccines.

Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas complained about an alleged lack of vaccines provided to them for the vaccination of their senior citizens.

According to Gullas, they only received a measly volume of the vaccines which were not enough to vaccinate most of Talisay’s 20,000 senior citizens.

Loreche said the allocation is based on the masterlist submitted to the the DOH 7 by the local government units (LGUs) and the vaccines are distributed as soon as supplies arrive in the region.

Loreche said the distribution of vaccines are done from the DOH regional office to the Provincial Health Office.

As of Thursday, May 6, a total of 98,405 (74.3 percent) healthcare workers in the region have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Of the number, 37,424 also received their second dose.

A total of 16,923 (2.89 percent) of the registered senior citizens have also been inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine under the LGU’s vaccination program.

Project Balik Buhay’s vaccination initiative has inoculated a total of 233 healthcare workers in the entire Cebu island along with 1,324 senior citizens, and 1,903 persons with comorbidities.

Meanwhile, the DOH on Friday, announced the resumption of vaccinations using the AZ vaccine ahead of the expected delivery of two million doses within the month.

Vaccinations using the AZ vaccine were halted for individuals below 60 years old on April 8 because of recent reports of rare cases of blood clots.

New guidelines

The agency also said guidelines on the management of adverse events following immunization (AEFI), particularly for the rare vaccine-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia (VITT), have been updated.

VITT is a very rare condition of blood clots associated with low platelet counts that can occur four to 28 days after receiving a viral vector vaccine such as the AZ, DOH said in a statement Friday.

The DOH said its All Experts Group on Vaccines and the Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine have determined that there are currently no known risk factors for VITT.

To date, no local VITT events have been confirmed by the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The DOH also said the vaccine experts have concluded that the benefits of receiving the AZ vaccine still outweigh the risk.

Based on the guidelines, all vaccination sites should have a strengthened post-vaccination surveillance to spot possible AEFI.

All healthcare workers at the vaccination sites should also be trained to detect and manage possible symptoms of VITT, and refer them to the appropriate health facility for definitive work-up and management.

The Philippines earlier received 525,600 doses of the AZ vaccine, which were all administered as the first dose. The second dose is to be given 12 weeks later.

The AZ vaccine, which was donated through the Covax facility, was approved in the Philippines for adults 18 years old and older.

The Philippines has been allotted more than 4.0 million doses of the AZ vaccine through Covax.

The private sector and local government units have also placed an order for 17 million doses of the AZ vaccine. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)