A provincial pharmacist inspects the Negros Oriental cold chain facility being preped for vaccination delivery and storage.

The province of Negros Oriental is ready to receive vaccines from the national government with its cold chain facility funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

The freezer, originally intended for the government’s Expanded Program on Immunization, is being prepped for the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines in March.

Dr. Liland Estacion, incident commander of the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force, said Unicef funded the cold storage construction in 2016.

The cold storage facility can store vaccines at temperatures of negative 2, 8, 15, 25, and 40 Celsius, she said. It can store 100,000 vials or a million doses of 10 doses per vial.

Unfortunately for the province, it could not accommodate Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine that requires a temperature of negative 70 Celsius. It is ideal for AstraZeneca which requires two degrees to 8 degrees Celsius, Estacion said.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH Central Visayas chief pathologist, said the government would receive its first batch of Pfizer shots in March. It is not yet clear when AstraZeneca shots will be delivered.

The Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) has yet to finish its priority list for the first batch of inoculation, which includes frontliners from public and private health institutions, senior citizens, and indigents.

IPHO aims to vaccinate at least 75% of the province’s 1.5 million population to achieve herd immunity by 2023. Ryan Sorote