July 15, 2024

More than 43,000 vials of anti-Covid-19 vaccines, worth P14.8 million were found to have been wasted in Benguet in 2022 for various reasons.

The 2022 report of the Commission on Audit on Benguet’s vaccination program showed lapses in the acceptance and use by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of the Covid-19 vaccines, which resulted in the wastage of 43,281 vials, costing P14,879,573.73.

Among other reasons, the COA report stated there was a wastage because some of the vaccines received by the PHO were already expired, some were damaged due to temperature excursion or the vaccines were exposed to a temperature that does not meet the range prescribed by the manufacturer, and some vials were opened.

The report stated an inventory conducted by the PHO pharmacist together with the audit team showed 1,465 vials of Pfizer vaccines were received despite the fact that these were already expired. Based on the records, the vaccines expired in August 2022, but were still received in October and December 2022.

Citing the explanation of the keeper of the vaccines, the COA added other reasons for the wastage were the reluctance of the beneficiaries to be vaccinated and their preference for brands other than what were available, which contributed to the expiration of the vaccines.

“The designated keeper of the vaccine explained that despite their effort to use the vaccines prior to expiration, the same were not used due to the unwillingness of the population to be vaccinated or due to the availability of different brands of Covid-19 vaccines preferred by constituents,” the COA reported.

Based on the report, out of the 76,298 vials received by the province, 25,865 vials were used, leaving 43,281 as reversed vials or wastage that was returned to the Department of Health and endorsed to the Integrated Waste Management Institute for destruction.

Of the six vaccine brands received by the province, Sputnik V had the most number of wastage, of which only 55 of the 3,870 vials were used in 2022.

For Sinovac, 3,481 out of the 26,217 vials received were actually used while for AstraZeneca, only 1,259 of the 7,226 vials received were used.

For Moderna, 1,496 out of the 7,911 vials received by the province were used and for Janssen, 704 out of the 2,945 vials received were used.

Pfizer had the highest number of vials used, of which 18,870 out of the 28,120 vials received were used.

The COA said the losses arising from the vaccine spoilage “would otherwise be a missed chance to constituents who may have yet to get the needed inoculations as their protection against the virus that has been continuously plaguing the world.”

It advised the provincial government to instruct the PHO to refrain from accepting expired vaccines, closely monitor the expiration dates of the vaccines to prioritize the use of those that are nearing their expiry, and continue and strengthen the Covid-19 vaccination campaign to encourage the constituents to get vaccinated.

The audit report for Benguet was uploaded to the COA website on June 15.

Benguet is one of the two provinces in the Cordillera with the lowest vaccination coverage rate.

As of June 25, the province recorded 254,758 fully vaccinated individuals, which is 73.57 percent of the 346,301 target population to be inoculated.

The DOH is now using the Pfizer bivalent vaccine as third booster for the A1 and A2 populations or the health workers and senior citizens, respectively.

The vaccine is seen to generate an immune response against the two Omicron subvariants of the virus that causes the Covid-19. – Jane B. Cadalig