The Department of Health said Sunday measures were put in place to keep COVID-19 vaccine safe from brownouts and potential flooding, as authorities prepared to expand the immunization drive to economic frontliners.
Several parts of Luzon were hit by rotational brownouts last week due to low power supply, at around the same time that the rainy season started. These pose a challenge to the COVID-19 vaccination program, as jabs need to be stored in dry and refrigerated facilities.
Storage facilities for vaccines are equipped with back-up power to prevent them from being spoiled when there is power interruption, said Health Usec. Myrna Cabotaje. Power distributors also know where the vaccine storage areas are located so that they could be spared from the outages.
"Nung naglabas ng advisory ang Meralco na may mga power outages, nagtulong-tulong kami para i-submit sa kanila yung saan naka-locate yung ating bakuna center para hangga't maaari, iiwas yung putol ng kuryente sa kanila," Cabotaje said in a dzBB interview on Sunday.
"May longitude at tsaka latitude, may mga coordinates kung nasaan yung ating bakuna center," she added.
Cold chain managers are also deployed to ensure that storage facilities are working properly, Cabotaje said.
"Kailangan may contingency plan which includes the monitoring, Sabado man o Linggo, tinitignan nila kung yung temperature ng ating cold chain storage facilities ay nasa angkop na temperatura," she added.
Cabotaje said the government ensured that the jabs are stored in areas that are not frequently hit by floods, landslides, and flash floods.
COVID-19 vaccines brought to Pharmaserv Express Inc., located in flood-prone Makati City, are stored in the facility's second floor to make sure that flood water will not reach them, she added.
On Sunday morning, an additional one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Sinovac arrived to the Philippines, bringing the country's inventory to roughly nine million.
The government is preparing to inoculate economic frontliners who are part of the A4 priority group.