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DOH revives proposal to redefine COVID-19 full vaccination

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DOH revives proposal to redefine COVID-19 full vaccination
A resident receives a BioNtech Pfizer Covid-19 jab as a booster, at a vaccination center in Quezon city on January 27, 2022, amidst rising covid-19 infections in the capital driven by Omicron variant.
AFP / Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health said Wednesday it is reviving its proposal to redefine the meaning of full vaccination to include the administration of a COVID-19 booster shot.

“We will propose to the Office of the President that our ‘fully vaccinated’ definition be refined, that we will now include the first booster shot,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

The agency made a similar proposal in the previous administration, but the push was put off to prioritize the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Vergeire said.

More than 71.8 million Filipinos have completed vaccination against COVID-19 since March last year. However, only 16.6 million people have received boosters.

Vergeire said Filipinos have not only become hesitant in getting boosters, but have also gotten complacent.

“They are already confident with their first two doses and because there are not much severe and critical [cases], they say that their two doses are enough,” the health official said, citing the findings of a survey conducted by the department.

Survey respondents also said that boosters are not required in offices or schools, Vergeire added.

In July, the government launched a campaign aiming to administer booster shots to 23.6 million individuals within the first 100 days of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The drive also targets to immunize 90% of the target senior citizen population.

The Philippines is seeing a renewed spike in infections fueled by the circulation of fast-spreading variants, low booster uptake, and waning vaccine immunity of the public. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

COVID-19 VACCINES

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

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