Cagayan de Oro running out of anti-rabies vaccines

Pamela Jay F. Orias

THE City Health Office (CHO) of Cagayan de Oro is calling on pet owners to be responsible while also urging the barangay workers in the city to keep stray dogs as rabies vaccines will only last until this month.

In an interview, City Health Officer Dr. Fe Bongcas disclosed that a vaccine shortage is happening not only nationwide, but globally.

Bongcas said the global shortage came after a batch of anti-rabies vaccines intended for the year 2018 turned out to be unusable due to contamination, prompting a recall of the products.

"The DOH (Department of Health) authorizes the release of two vaccines only, the Verorab which is good for two persons, and the Chick Embryo vaccine mao siya ang gihunong (this was the one which is stopped), and one vial of the Chick Embryo vaccine benefits five people, so that really created shortage," Bongcas said.

The Verorab vaccine, she said, is also out of stock due to the increase of demand.

This is why the CHO has intensified its campaign for responsible pet ownership, especially because the rise in dog bites cases is mainly attributed to domesticated dogs.

Bongcas said the trend of dog bites cases in Cagayan de Oro is increasing.

In 2015, the CHO recorded a total of 10,000 dog bites, 2016 with 11,000 bites cases, year 2017 with 12,800 cases, and for the first quarter of this year, 3,800 cases of dog bites are recorded so far.

"Based on our stock inventory, our vaccines will only last until this month.

In District 1, the vaccines have ran out since Monday, April 16.

Vaccines are only available now in our office," she said.

Bongcas said the CHO can always prescribe vaccines.

“But the problem is, you cannot buy them anywhere. So our focus now is really responsible pet ownership. Everyone must be careful and avoid being bitten by dogs. If you want to raise a dog, make sure you can afford," she added.

In 2015 and 2016, the CHO recorded zero deaths, while there was recorded one death last year due to rabbies.

Meanwhile, Bongcas said the regional, provincial and city health offices are waiting for DOH memorandum to allow them to purchase doses of vaccine from small local suppliers being approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has a list of approved vaccines to ensure the safety and efficacy of vaccines sold in the market.

"But there are still no order from the higher ups yet," Bongcas said.