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Pharmacies, drugstores eyed as jab sites

The decision to tap private sectors was due to lack of vaccinators in many vaccination sites in the country.



Photo by Joey Sanchez Mendoza

In a bid to solve the lack of vaccinators, the government is planning to tap pharmacies and drugstores as vaccination sites, the Department of Health (DoH) said Sunday.

In a text message to the Daily Tribune, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje confirmed that the government is in talks with private pharmacies to allow them to administer Covid-19 vaccines.

“We are facilitating and coordinating with them. Pharmacies are willing to help LGU (local government units) especially these times and even in the future,” Cabotaje said.

“We worked with them, the private sectors, the NTF (National Task Force against Covid-19), the regional offices and even the LGU,” she added.

Cabotaje, who is also the chairperson of the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) said that the government will deploy Covid-19 vaccines to pharmacies with the help of LGU.

“Vaccines can be deployed to them via many means — regional offices, LGU and even straight from the national government storage if needed,” she added.

Asked if pharmacies could ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, the official noted that pharmacies have the capability to properly store the vaccines.

“They have planning and storage. We will conduct a pilot roll-out to see the processes,” she said.

Cabotaje noted that they are already crafting the operational guidelines which are expected to be released this week.

Lack of vaccinators

In a separate interview, NTF medical adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa said that the decision to tap private sectors was due to lack of vaccinators in many vaccination sites in the country.

Herbosa said many healthcare workers in hospitals are currently infected with Covid-19, this prompted several vaccinators to go back and assist patients in hospitals.

“That became our solution to the lack of vaccinators. We wondered if the private sector is willing to cooperate as vaccination sites. And true enough, they are. I just couldn’t disclose the names because they are private,” he told a radio interview.

In the Philippine General Hospital alone, the largest Covid-19 referral center in the country, he said that almost 100 of its healthcare workers have contracted the virus over the past week.

He noted that 93 of these healthcare workers have resumed working five days after contracting the dreaded respiratory disease.

“Luckily, when we implemented the shorter quarantine, about 90 to 93 personnel were able to resume working,” he added.

The government’s adviser is referring to the DoH’s newly-implemented order whereas fully vaccinated health workers with mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 will only have to quarantine and isolate for five days instead of the previous seven-day period.

Based on the latest data from the National Covid-19 Vaccination Dashboard, the country has administered a total of 118,624,466 doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

Of the administered vaccines, 58,767,384 are fully vaccinated individuals, 55,093,311 are first dose, and 4,765,711 are booster doses.

The DoH also reported a total of 37,154 fresh Covid-19 infections, bringing the total caseload to 3,205,396.

The new cases pushed the active cases to 287,856, of which 273,924 are mild, 9,212 are asymptomatic, 2,940 are moderate, 1,475 are severe, and 305 are critical.

The positivity rate stood at 47.4 percent of the 81,381 individuals who were screened for the respiratory disease on 14 January.

Meanwhile, the agency reported 30,037 new recoveries which brought the country’s total recovered patients to 2,864,633. The country’s Covid-19 death toll is now at 52,907 after 50 new fatalities were recorded.