Booster shots, third dose approved but still need EUA — DOH

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Booster shots, third dose approved but still need EUA � DOH
A health worker prepares to administer the Sinovac vaccine against the COVID-19 at Pinyahan Elementary School in Quezon City on April, 14, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 11:41 a.m.) — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has approved a government panel's proposal for COVID-19 booster shots and third doses, a health official said on Monday.

The Health Technology Assessment Council recommended the move provided a stable supply of the jabs and an "acceptable" vaccination coverage in the country. 

But while already with Duque's nod, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said this would still need an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. 

"All plans are underway," she said at a briefing in Filipino. "While we're waiting for the EUA, we are already planning and discussing its implementation."

HTAC recommended the use of booster shots in the country, starting with medical workers and the elderly who have received their primary doses at least six months by end of this year. 

But the council was careful in pitching the move, saying "provided there is sufficient vaccine supply and acceptable primary vaccination coverage has been achieved.”

While inoculation czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has said the Philippines is no longer dealing with supply problems of the jabs, the hurdle could be on the number of persons fully vaccinated.

Government figures last week showed there are only 24.87 million Filipinos in the country complete with their COVID-19 shots.

While that rate has picked up pace in recent months, it still translates to 32.25% of the government’s target population of 77.13 million this year.

HTAC said the giving of booster shots could be expanded to other eligible populations by 2022, but only if an acceptable vaccine coverage is met in the originally identified priority groups. 

It cited as examples 50% coverage for those in the priority list, as well as 70% of the total target population in hotspot regions such as Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon.

"The rationale for the set threshold prior to implementation of booster includes ensuring maximum coverage for the primary series," the council said, "as the premature rollout of booster vaccination without attaining acceptable coverage would exacerbate existing inequities."

Apart from booster shots, HTAC also recommended an additional or third dose for immunocompromised patients, which is still different from the former. 

A World Health Organization advisory panel advised the use of this on October 11 for the said individuals, since they are "less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease.”

HTAC told Duque an additional dose could be given for immunocompromised individuals at least 28 days after completing their initial vaccine series. 

Among those it recommended for the shot are persons receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood, those receiving an organ transplant, dialysis patients, and those with advanced or untreated human immunodeficiency virus or HIV infection.

The Philippines began its inoculation efforts in March this year that authorities have sought to ramp up amid a deadly surge in cases in recent months attributed to the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19.

Jabs with emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration are: Sinovac, Astrazeneca, Sputnik V, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Bharat Biotech, and Sinopharm.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 7, 2023 - 2:21pm

A new thread on the Philippines' vaccination program in 2021 in the government's revised objective to reach "population protection." Bookmark our COVID-19 and Vaccination Dashboard for the latest figures on the pandemic in the Philippines. — Main image: The STAR/Michael Varcas, file

August 7, 2023 - 2:21pm

The city government of Valenzuela City announces that it is temporarily suspending the use of Pfizer bivalent COVID-19 vaccines as they wait for more vaccine supplies.

July 25, 2023 - 12:40pm

Pasig City government announces the schedule of COVID-19 vaccination in the city from July 15 until July 28.

It advises residents that first, second dose and first and 2nd booster shots are available on a first come, first serve basis in its designated vaccination sites. 

Among the available vaccine brands is Sinovac for 6 years old and above. It adds that there are no Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines yet for residents age 12 and above.

June 21, 2023 - 8:56am

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to lead the rollout of the bivalent COVID-19 vaccination at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City. — The STAR/Helen Flores

June 20, 2023 - 12:35pm

The Department of Health reminds public that they can still avail of the COVID-19 booster and bivalent booster. It reposted an infographic that determines when it is best to get the first two boosters and the bivalent booster.

May 18, 2022 - 3:39pm

Senior citizens and frontline health workers may now get their second booster shots, particularly mRNA jabs such as Moderna and Pfizer, the Department of Health announces. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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