Local health officials conducted a simulation exercise last Monday morning, March 8, 2021, at the Eastern Bicol Medical Center, whose frontline personnel will be the first to be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease anytime this week.
The exercise is in preparation for the arrival of the Coronavac vaccine made by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac which has been issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to a source who requested anonymity, a limited quantity of vaccines intended for the first dose to be administered to the health personnel will arrive this week, possibly by Thursday, via ferry from Tabaco to Virac.
The plan mandates that the vaccination will be undertaken at the provincial hospital and at other strategically-located vaccination centers designated by each local government unit.
Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Hazel Palmes said the plan will be consolidated and finally approved after the simulation.
Nearly 6,000 health frontliners are included in the list of those to be vaccinated in the first phase.
Pursuant to the National COVID-19 Vaccination Deployment Plan, taking first priority are all health workers from the private and public sector currently on active service, whether they are permanent, contractual, job-order and/or outsourced employees of staff.
They include those in the public and private health facilities, public health workers and contact tracers, active Barangay Health Workers and Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs), and personnel of other national government agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and others.
Also with the priority eligible group “A” are senior citizens, indigent population, and uniformed personnel.
In Group “B” are teachers and school workers, all national and local government workers, essential workers, socio-demographic groups such as Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs), Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Indigenous Peoples, Filipinos living in high density areas, students 18 years old and above, Overseas Filipino Workers, and other remaining workforce.
Under the so-called phased approach, all frontline health workers will be vaccinated first before proceeding to the next group.
With the delivery of vaccines to the countries being done by tranches, the deployment of vaccines will be done first to areas with high burden of COVID-19 cases per region, the plan states.
From the regional warehouse of the Department of Health, the vaccines will be transported to the provincial health office before distribution to district hospitals, RHUs and other implementing units such as private hospitals, health facilities of other government agencies and private clinics as designated by local health authorities.
Each vaccination workforce will consist of at least six health personnel for Vaccination Team, two for the Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) composite team, supervisors and monitors for at least three Vaccination Teams, cold chain and logistics officers, barangay captains, police personnel, drivers, safety officers and others.
Each Vaccination Team shall have a target of 100 vaccines per day, the plan specifies.
During the vaccination itself, the recipients, wearing face masks and face shields, will be seated singly and apart in a waiting area where handwashing facilities will be put up.
Then they will proceed to the registration area for their QR codes and data inputs, after which they will move to another room where health education and counselling will be provided by a counselor using a video and IEC materials. At this time, they will give their final consent for the vaccination.
At the screening area, the recipients will be checked for their vital signs using a checklist and, once given the go-signal, enter the vaccination area for the procedure which should take just 1-2 minutes.
The process from registration to vaccination should take an average of 15 minutes per person.
From there, they will go to the post-vaccination area where they will be monitored by a team composed of a nurse, midwife and paramedic for about 30 minutes to one hour for any allergic reactions or untoward responses to the vaccine.. This area will be equipped with a treatment kit, stretchers, handwashing area, oxygen tank, intubation set, pulse oximeter and other gear, along with an ambulance on standby.
Pursuant to IATF guidelines, the vaccination post must be in an open or well-ventilated area which should be frequently disinfected. It must be spacious enough to implement physical distancing and crowd control measures, must have separate entrance and exit, with separate tables for each step, and big enough to accommodate 24 individuals at a given time.
After vaccination, those who received the vaccines will be placed under surveillance pursuant to the World Health Organization’s guidelines for establishing Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) surveillance systems.