MANILA – Since proper vaccine storage is among the vital aspects of a vaccination program, the Department of Science and Technology in Region 10 (DOST-10) has been offering free calibration services amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
DOST-10’s Regional Standards and Testing Laboratory (RSTL) provides calibration services to help ensure the smooth implementation of the country’s vaccination program, said Secretary Fortunato de la Peña in a Viber message on Tuesday.
“It is required that the temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius is maintained while the vaccines are stored. Otherwise, these vaccines become ineffective. Hence, the importance of maintaining well-calibrated storage facilities,” he said.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday, DOST-10 Director Alfonso Alamban said they actually charge PHP1,550 to PHP2,100 for the calibration services, but these fees were waived during the pandemic.
This service is for the bio refrigerators of hospitals and rural health units, he said.
As of March 20, the RSTL has already calibrated nine bio refrigerators, three refrigerators, one freezer, and 13 wall thermometers and dial thermometers of different health facilities in Northern Mindanao.
“Our calibration equipment are highly accurate to determine the correct temperature. The readings indicated in the device itself may not be accurate for a number of reasons, including maintenance issues. By comparing the readings with our calibration devices, we can determine the extent of errors in the refrigeration device, and the appropriate adjustments and/or repairs can be initiated,” Alamban said.
He pointed out that it is important for a facility to have proper storage and monitoring equipment. “This would protect the patients from inadvertently receiving compromised vaccines, and also protect the facilities from costs of revaccinating patients, replacing expensive vaccines and losing patients’ confidence.”
Meanwhile, Alamban said the RSTL has been there since the mid-90s.
“I think not all regions (offer) temperature calibration (services), but all laboratories are linked through the OneLab project. One can request for a test with the RSTL in his or her locality. It would then send the samples to the nearest RSTL with the capability for this test,” he said.
Aside from calibration services, DOST-10’s RSTL also has microbiology and chemical laboratories, shelf-life testing, and nutrition facts analysis. (PNA)