The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas is preparing a 3.5-million-capacity cold chain facility for the government’s initial vaccination rollout program.

Dr. Jaime Bernadas said the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, designated as Cebu province’s Covid-19 hospital, was preparing a vaccine storage facility that could accommodate at least 400,000 vaccine doses using a refrigerator that could store the shots at -80 degrees Celsius.

DOH Region 7 has procured another refrigerator for additional storage, and both cold chain facilities will arrive next week, he said.

Bernadas also said Cebu and Davao would join a “simulation exercise” on Feb. 10 in preparation for the nationwide vaccination rollout.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said vaccinations would immediately start when the shots arrive in the first and second quarter of the year.

Inoculations may start within three to five days upon supply arrival, Vergeire said, quoting vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

Vergeire said the government was expecting the arrival of 117 million dosages of Pfizer and about 5 to 8 million dosages from AstraZeneca in the next couple of months.

The DOH said it would follow the “prioritization framework” recommended by the World Health Organization. Those prioritized will be health care workers, senior citizens, individuals with comorbidities, indigents, and other sectors.

Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara, undersecretary for research and development of the Department of Science and Technology, said the government was also participating in Phase 3 clinical trials for Johnson, Sinovac, and Clover vaccines.

Guevara said that in the Visayas, only Bacolod and Iloilo would be participating in trials. Ryan Sorote