Members of the National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases will observe the third simulation exercises on the transport of vaccines and vaccination activity in Davao City, which was set for Tuesday, February 16.

Davao City Councilor Joselle Villafuerte, the chairperson of the Committee on Health, during the Special Hour program of the Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) on Monday, February 15, said, “Muabot na ang National IATF (The National IATF will arrive) tomorrow to observe how prepared are we for the arrival of the vaccines.”

Information from the City Health Office (CHO) indicated that National Task Force COVID-19 Response Chief Implementor Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Presidential Spokesperson Sec. Harry Roque, Jr., Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and Cabinet Secretary Sec. Carlo Nograles will be around to observe the simulation exercise.

She said the COVID-19 vaccines ordered by the national government were expected to arrive in the Philippines on February 12 and that they expected the allocation for Davao City to arrive on February 15.

“There seems to be some delay about documents. We don’t really know exactly why. Anyway, we’re still preparing because the vaccines are arriving soon. Mas maayo man nang ready ta (It’s always better to be ready),” she said.

Villafuerte authored the COVID-19 Immunization Program Ordinance of Davao City, which was passed on third and final reading on February 2. The ordinance, according to her, awaits the signature of Mayor Inday Sara Duterte.

But since the COVID-19 vaccines allocated for the city by the national government are arriving anytime soon, Villafuerte said the mayor may soon sign the ordinance.

In the meantime, she said a series of simulation exercises is being conducted since last week. She also said that the third of the simulation exercises will be observed by the National IATF.

Villafuerte said, “As you know, gibase nato ang atong ordinance on many chapters sa atong national deployment and vaccination plan of the national government. That’s the framework we were weaving para sa atong ordinance and for the actual immunization plan sa atong syudad (We based our ordinance from many chapters of the national government’s deployment and vaccination plan. That’s the framework we were weaving for our city ordinance and the city’s actual immunization plan). So one of the activities para mag-preparar for the arrival of the vaccines is to do simulation exercises since there are logistical requirements labi na sa Pfizer kay it has to be below 70 (especially with the Pfizer vaccine since it requires storage temperature conditions of -70°C).”

The simulation exercise on February 16, according to her, will start from the supposed arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines at the Davao International Airport, then it will proceed to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) molecular laboratory to supposedly store the vaccines. From there, the activity will proceed to the transfer of the vaccines to different vaccination sites such as the SPMC, University of the Immaculate Conception, and Mabini Elementary School.

The lady councilor also said that all three vaccination sites were already readied since last week with waiting and registration areas, among others, as described in the sections of the COVID-19 Immunization Program Ordinance of Davao City, for the inspection of the National IATF.

Since the nature of the ordinance is general and it’s a permanent document, they did not name specific places as vaccination sites nor were the vaccines named. Only requirements for COVID-19 vaccines were identified so the city government of Davao can adjust.

Villafuerte added, “Since Pfizer ang unang muabot, kabalo na ta we have to adjust. Gamay lang man muabot only for health workers, so duha ka sites ang nadesisyunan (Since Pfizer will be the first vaccine to arrive, we have to adjust. And since the doses are limited only for the health workers, only two vaccination sites have been decided). As more and more vaccines arrive and if the vaccines coming can be stored in ordinary fridge available at our district health centers, then they will become vaccination sites as well.” CIO