Imee: 40 Million Vaccines Unused Due To Transport And Other Backlogs

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Senator Imee Marcos has expressed shock at the millions of vaccine doses that have not yet been administered but said local government units (LGUs) were not entirely to blame for the country’s delay in meeting its vaccination targets.

“Yes, the President is right, LGUs (local government units) that delay vaccinations should be punished. But on record those LGUs are few and far between; most LGUs I know in the more distant provinces are desperate to get their hands on vaccine supplies!” the former Ilocos Norte governor said, citing areas in the Cordillera Administrative Region and Mindanao.

Marcos added that “a shocking 40 million doses remain unused not because of LGU negligence, but rather because of logistical logjams either at the DOH (Department of Health), BOC (Bureau of Customs), or somewhere in our chaotic distribution and storage chains,” explaining a Bloomberg report released Tuesday.

“The other major cause of delay is still vaccine hesitancy, which has not been addressed by a coherent or thorough public information campaign,” she also said.

The Philippines has fully vaccinated about 25% of its estimated 111 million people, ranking ninth out of the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ahead only of Myanmar.

Marcos hastened to add, however, that the Philippines was “in a more challenging predicament as an archipelagic nation,” which complicated the delivery and storage of vaccines in island provinces.

To hasten the pace of vaccination and prevent the wastage of vaccines, Marcos said that registration for booster shots should already begin ahead of their anticipated approval for public health policy by the World Health Organization later this November.

Ramping up delivery and cold-chain capacities must also be coordinated with LGUs to preserve the efficacy of vaccines, in case these need to be stored longer than expected, she added.