DOH: Booster dose plan underway

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
DOH: Booster dose plan underway
In this file photo a healthcare worker fills a syringe with Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination event in Los Angeles, California, August 11, 2021.
AFP / Robyn Beck

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday assured the public that planning for booster doses is now underway.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC)’s recommendation on booster doses was “interim” and meant to guide sectoral planning.

“This was taken from the HTAC website that was posted for transparency. All the plans are underway and like we have said before, we will have these third doses for the immunocompromised, senior citizens and our boosters for our health care workers,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

She noted that the HTAC recommendation will be updated pending the assessment from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the amendment of emergency use authorization, and the release of the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization recommendation expected this November.

While waiting for the guidelines on boosters, DOH will focus on reaching eligible unvaccinated individuals 12 years old and above.

“The primary series of vaccines far outweigh the incremental benefit of boosters. We have to prioritize giving the primary series of these COVID-19 vaccines to the unvaccinated so they, too, can receive the additional protection that vaccines provide against hospitalizations and deaths,” Vergeire noted.

The decision on mixing and matching of vaccine brands for boosters, she said, will depend on FDA’s final assessment of the evidence submitted by the DOH All Experts Group.

Vaccine arrivals

Some 976,950 Pfizer vaccine doses were scheduled to arrive last night at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 on an Air Hong Kong flight, marking 100 million doses since jabs began arriving last February.

The Philippine government officially received yesterday some 896,600 AstraZeneca doses donated by the Japanese government on an All Nippon Airways flight NH8595 from Narita, Japan.

National Task Force chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Japanese Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Dodo Dulay, Finance Undersecretary Mark Joven, Assistant Secretary Editha Tan and director Ariel Valencia of the DOH welcomed the delivery.

Another batch of 1,065,600 AstraZeneca jabs, also from Japan, is expected to arrive tomorrow afternoon at NAIA Terminal 3.

A shipment of 973,440 Pfizer doses from the COVAX Facility is set to arrive at NAIA today via an Air Hong Kong flight. From Oct. 27 to 30, some 4,888,940 million COVID vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the country.

Combining both procured jabs and donations, the country has received a total of 102,472,800 doses since the first batch of Sinovac jabs was delivered via Chinese transport plane last Feb. 28 at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. –  Rudy Santos, Neil Jayson Servallos

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