BOC and DOH prepare for COVID-19 Vaccine Importations in Visayas and Mindanao

As the country awaits for the first importations of Pfizer vaccines in Visayas and Mindanao, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Health (DOH) convened and held series of virtual meetings to discuss the final preparations for the anticipated influx of vaccine importations through the Port of Davao headed by District Collector Erastus Sandino Austria and Port of Cebu headed by District Collector Charlito Martin Mendoza, on June 4, 7-8, 2021, weeks after the 1st Interagency Conference on Customs Clearance of Vaccine Importations led by the Port of NAIA headed by District Collector Carmelita M. Talusan.

The series of virtual coordination meeting were attended by representatives from the Department of Health, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of International Health Cooperation, Philippine National Police, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, DHL, UNICEF, World Health Organization, Zuellig Pharma, Orca Cold Chain Solutions, Southern Philippines Medical Center, and other agencies involved.

Contingency plans on natural calamities and emergencies, including logistics and security issues and possible scenarios that may be encountered at the time of the arrival of the Pfizer vaccines in Cebu and Davao were discussed during the meeting.

The DOH highly encouraged the BOC ports to adopt the customs procedure observed and implemented in the Port of NAIA in facilitating COVID-19 vaccines as presented by District Collector Talusan during the previous conference, to ensure the seamless and expeditious release and distribution of vaccines in the Visayas and Mindanao islands.

Meanwhile, even before the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines, BOC NAIA, Davao, and Cebu conducted an inter-port meeting last February 11, 2021 to fully prepare the country’s airports in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao in processing, clearing, releasing and handling of the Covid-19 vaccines.

Generally, the successful facilitation of all previously imported vaccines can be attributed to several preparations since 2020, such as consultative meetings with the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Health (DOH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance, and other agencies, inter-port coordination, site inspections, arrival simulation and activation of One-Stop-Shops and assistance hotlines, among others.

Amid global economic slowdown and downturn, the Bureau of Customs indeed plays a vital part in the country’s rehabilitation process by implementing enhanced trade facilitation mechanism. To secure the unhampered release and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines deemed crucial and essential, the BOC, under the direction of Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero, along with the National Task Force and the Department of Health, commits to relentlessly embark on ways to contribute to the nation’s quest against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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