With the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines in the country, the Department of Science and Technology Region X (DOST-X) is making sure that the appropriate storage conditions are present and properly maintained by conducting free calibration of COVID-19 vaccine storage equipment throughout Northern Mindanao.
To date, the DOST-X Regional Standards and Testing Laboratories (RSTL) has calibrated a total of nine bio-refrigerators, three refrigerators, 13 wall and dial thermometers, one freezer, and eight thermo-hygrometers from different health units in Region X.
According to RSTL Head Engr. Frumencio B. Quiblat, Jr., "Compliance to the vaccine's cold chain is a must to ensure the vaccine's integrity and efficacy. Not conforming to its required temperature might waste the vaccine making it not useful anymore."
A cold chain is a temperature-controlled supply chain that includes all vaccine-related equipment and procedures. It makes sure that a specific range of temperature is maintained and controlled from the manufacturer to the end-user.
In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the temperature requirement should range from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius from the manufacturer to the vaccine recipient. This requirement also extends to the vaccine's transportation and storage.
"It is necessary to ensure that the temperature indicated by the different storages and equipment is accurate, thus the need to calibrate all of them. If the health units' vaccine storage claims to have 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, then it should be 2 to 8 degrees Celsius according to international standards," added Engr. Quiblat, Jr.
Calibration is the accuracy and precision of equipment and measuring instruments (thermometers, data loggers, and other devices) established by, certified by, and traceable to international standards.
Local Government Units, Rural Health Units, Municipal Health Units, and Provincial Health Offices in the region may avail of this free service from DOST-X to ensure the efficient continuation of the nation's vaccination program. Interested parties who want to avail of this free service may send a request letter addressed to DOST-X Regional Director Alfonso P. Alamban.
Incidentally, there are already 16 RSTLs across the country that were established under the DOST One-Stop Laboratory Services for Global Competitiveness or OneLab program. This program was created in 2012 upon the instruction of the President for the DOST to initiate the harmonization of testing laboratories in the country.
This network of laboratories aims to ensure availability and broadening public access to testing and calibration services at a single touchpoint through an IT-based platform. The OneLab program facilitates the seamless laboratory transaction from sample receipt to release of test result through the OneLab Referral System. With this efficient system, clients get the fastest turn-around time and expanded test offerings in the market, thus enable stakeholders like MSMEs to be more globally competitive. (Source: Julie Anne H. Baculio, DOST-X, email@example.com, 0917-709-3706)