DOH sets stage for implementation of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

MANILA, Philippines — The government is already planning to heed the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on providing third COVID-19 vaccine doses to senior citizens who have received Sinovac and Sinopharm shots, and immunocompromised people who had their primary series of vaccines.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Friday that the government’s All Experts Group agreed with the recommendations of WHO, but noted that a proper process should be observed before third doses can be provided.


“Lahat po ng ito ay mga plano. It is already underway, kailangan lang po natin makapaghintay din. Of course we need an EUA (emergency use authorization) from the Food and Drug Administration before we can start implementing itong mga rekomendasyon na ito,” Vergeire told an online media briefing.

(All of these are plans. It is already underway and we just need to wait. Of course, we need an EUA from the FDA before we can start implementing these recommendations.)


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“The All Experts Panel agrees doon sa mga sinabi ng WHO (with the recommendations of WHO). Ilalagay lang natin sa proseso (It just needs to undergo the right process) but everything is underway and the government is already planning for this,” Vergeire added.

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts of WHO earlier recommended that immunocompromised people be provided with an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine because of their higher risk of breakthrough infections.

The panel also suggested that senior citizens who have received vaccines made by Chinese vaccine makers Sinopharm and Sinovac be offered an

extra COVID-19 shot

of the same brands one to three months after completing their schedule.

Vergeire, citing WHO, explained that booster shots are different from third doses.

She said that booster doses are provided due to waning immunity several months after the primary course of vaccination, while third doses are provided for people such as individuals with comorbidity and senior citizens who may have not mounted sufficient immunity against the disease.


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