DOH Bicol conducts COVID-19 vaccination simulation exercises

Photo: DOH CHD Bicol

The Regional Vaccine Operation Center (RVOC) of the Department of Health – Bicol Center for Health Development (DOH – Bicol CHD) together with the Bicol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) conducted the first in the series of COVID-19 vaccine simulation exercises (SIMEX) on February 18 and 19.
The event aimed to determine the readiness of the identified hospitals in the region where the vaccination of its health care providers will be first conducted.
Said simulation exercises were held at Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH), Bicol Medical Center (BMC), and the Naga Imaging Center Cooperative Doctors Hospital (NICC Doctors Hospitals). These health facilities were identified based on the cold chain facility, strategic location, number of cases, high exposure of its health personnel to COVID-19 infection and capacity to respond.
The SIMEX started from the arrival of the mock vaccines in Legazpi airport following the protocols of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), to transport to BRTTH and the actual vaccination process which includes registration, counseling and consent, screening and assessment, and vaccination and post-vaccination monitoring and management of any occurrence of a post-vaccination reaction event.

All the activities were timed to assure compliance to proper vaccine handling, storage, and transport. The said process was likewise simulated at the Bicol Medical Center (BMC) and NICC, both in Naga City.

Following the SIMEX, a post-activity meeting was conducted to provide feedback to the hospital management on areas identified for improvement which included crowd control, risk communication and counseling, time compliance, physical and proper set up of step-by-step process, observance of minimum public health standards, and proper disposal of logistics.

During a press conference held in relation to this event, Dr. Ernie V. Vera, Regional Director of DOH Bicol CHD emphasized the importance of all personalities in that vaccination process, both the vaccinators and vaccinees to follow the prescribed process of vaccination.
“Of course, I will fall in line and follow the process,” he said.

Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Maria Francia Laxamana, who also participated in the simulation exercises at BRTTH and BMC, assured the press that only FDA-approved vaccines will be administered to eligible populations. She reminded the staff that the minimum public health standards (MPHS) must still be observed.

“We want all of us to be vaccinated so we can have protection. Even if we already have a vaccine, we should still stick to the MPHS. We cannot be complacent even if the vaccine is available. Of course, the vaccines that will be deployed to our country will go through FDA approval. So, we will not be giving vaccines that did not pass the FDA standards, so we are assured of the safety of or vaccine,” ASec. Laxamana stated.

The Bicol region will follow Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization of the World Health Organization (WHO), according to DOH CHD. 

Under the advisory, frontline health workers (public and private whether permanent, contractual, or job-order employees or staff), indigent senior citizens, remaining indigent population, and uniformed personnel are prioritized.

The goal of prioritization is to maintain the most critical essential services; reduce morbidity and mortality; control transmission; minimize disruption of social, economic and security functions, and resumption to near-normal.