‘Bivalent vaccines may help boost jab uptake’

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
�Bivalent vaccines may help boost jab uptake�
Residents of Marikina City line up for a booster shot at the Marikina Sports Complex.
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The use of bivalent vaccines may help boost vaccine uptake in the country, an infectious disease expert said yesterday.

“Once bivalent vaccines become available in the country, there could be an increase in vaccination uptake, particularly boosters, especially among the vulnerable population given that it really gives additional protection,” Dr. Edsel Salvaña said at the Laging Handa public briefing.

He added, “I think the novelty of bivalent vaccines providing additional protection against hospitalization can help increase booster uptake since this can be given as a first booster or second booster or as an additional booster if the person already had the second booster, that is as long as it has already been two to three months from the last booster.

“Hopefully, these bivalent vaccines will not only boost immunity but also boost the vaccine uptake,” Salvaña stressed.
Salvaña likewise explained that these new boosters that are bivalent vaccines will not be used as primary series.

“It will still be the monovalent that will be used as primary series but if it will be combined with the bivalent booster, there is extra protection especially against the new Omicron subvar-iants,” he said.

“We can observe that right now, people are already going out and things have started going back to normal,” Salvaña said, adding that people should see the need for increased protec-tion as compared to the time when we don’t have vaccines and no knowledge yet of how to treat COVID.

“We all know that mutations of COVID-19 variants and subvariants have been ongoing. The efficacy of vaccines to fight infection has really gone down. We also noticed that over time if an individual didn’t receive a booster dose, protection against severe disease wanes,” added Salvaña.

He noted, “We can see that bivalent vaccines can provide additional protection against infection and even against severe disease. Whether we have to give this every year or we only have to give it to certain portions of the population, data is still being gathered since deployment of bivalent vaccines just started last October 2022.”

The DOH earlier announced that it is planning to make available bivalent COVID-19 vaccines in the country by the first quarter of this year.
As to priority groups, Salvaña said, “I think our priority would still be the vulnerable population like the health care workers, the elderly population and those with comorbidities.”

He added, “The priority list would consist of those at highest risk for bad outcomes such as the health care workers since obviously, we are the ones directly dealing and taking care of COVID-19 patients, and our vulnerable population like the elderly and those with comorbidities who have the highest risk for severe outcomes.”

DOH data showed that as of Jan. 8, 52.6 million fully vaccinated individuals have yet to get their booster shots.
A mere 21.2 million individuals out of 73.8 million fully vaccinated Filipinos have been given booster shots.

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