Philippines starts rollout of COVID-19 booster shots, third doses

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Philippines starts rollout of COVID-19 booster shots, third doses
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III administers a COVID-19 booster shot to Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the government’s Vaccine Expert Panel, during the ceremonial vaccination at East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City on November 22, 2021
PTV / Mark Fetalco

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines on Monday started giving COVID-19 booster shots for the elderly as well as third doses for the immunocompromised, nearly nine months into its inoculation drive. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III led the administering of the jabs at a ceremonial vaccination at East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City. 

Authorities opened COVID-19 booster shots last week starting with health workers. In a separate briefing, Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said the rollout would be done in phases. 

“May we just remind the public that this is still only for health care workers, senior citizens who are 60 years old and above, and immunocompromised individuals in the A3,” she said in mixed English and Filipino.

Among the priority group for persons with comorbidities, Vergeire said those eligible to get third doses so far are: 

  • those in immunodeficiency state
  • people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • with active cancer or malignancy
  • transplant recipients
  • patients under immunosuppresives 
  • dialysis patients

Those not in the list would be part of the rollout’s second phase, the health official added. 

But as the country begins giving out booster and third doses, Vergeire stressed the focus should remain on administering the primary series on the unvaccinated.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has sought to assure that the Philippines’s vaccine stockpile is enough for the two efforts.

“We have enough doses of vaccine brands,” he said during the ceremonial booster rollout. “We have allocated six to eight million [doses] for senior citizens and with comorbidities, excluding the 1.6 million we have for health workers.”

The Food and Drug Administration has cleared four vaccine brands as booster shots and third doses, namely: Sinovac, Astrazeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna. 

There are now 33.57 million Filipinos fully vaccinated for COVID-19, latest data showed. 

The figure is out of the 77.13 million the government targets to inoculate this year to meet “population protection.”

Some 41.99 million, meanwhile, have received a first dose.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 12, 2021 - 11:01am

A new thread on the Philippines' vaccination program in 2021 in the government's revised objective to reach "population protection." (Main image: The STAR/Michael Varcas, file)

November 12, 2021 - 11:01am

Starting December 1, the vaccination of employees required to work on-site will be mandatory in the public and private sector in areas with sufficient COVID-19 jabs supply.

"However, eligible employees who remain to be unvaccinated may not be terminated but they shall be required to undergo regular RT-PCR testing, or antigen tests, at their own expense," Malacañang says.

November 3, 2021 - 10:11am

The Philippine government is targeting to administer at least 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of November, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. says.

The government aims to achieve 1 million to 1.5 million jabs per day starting November 20.

To achieve this, Galvez says about 4,000 to 5,000 vaccination sites would be activated, including malls, universities, schools, gyms, camps and function halls of different government agencies.

October 27, 2021 - 10:56am

The Philippine government will start the full rollout of COVID-19 vaccination among minors aged 12 to 17 on November 5.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says the guidelines are being drafted.

October 25, 2021 - 9:02am

The Health Technology Assessment Council of the Department of Health recommends the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for healthcare workers by fourth quarter of this year.

The council also recommends rolling out booster shots among eligible priority groups by next year.

HTAC says the recommendations are offered "in consideration of sufficient vaccine supply and acceptable coverage for primary vaccination."

October 8, 2021 - 10:00am

Another 2.1 million doses of Moderna and more than 661,100 doses of Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrive at NAIA Terminal 1 on Friday morning.

The Moderna vaccines are procured by the government while the Astrazeneca jabs were bought by the private sector.

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