The country is planning to give immunocompromised individuals their third vaccine dose against COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.
“We just need to wait. Of course, we will need an emergency use authorization or EUA from the Food and Drug Administration before we can start implementing the recommendation,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media briefing.
DOH's announcement came after the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that immunocompromised individuals should be given an additional dose against the virus.
Vergeire also clarified that booster shots are given when immunity is starting to wane after several months from receiving the vaccine.
Additional doses, or the third doses, are given to individuals who cannot mount the appropriate immunity against the sickness.
“For example, third doses, or those who could not mount appropriate immunity are our immunocompromised individuals and, of course, we are also considering our senior citizens,” said Vergeire.
“Now, when it comes to boosters, we need a study that proves that the immunity of an individual is really going down for them to receive a booster shot,” she said.
Vergeire had said that there is no evidence yet proving that booster shots may provide complete protection against COVID-19.
Vergeire also clarified that the DOH is not opposed to booster shots.
A former adviser to the government said instead of vaccinating children age 12 to 17, the government should give booster shots to health care workers.
"The kids are at home and they are low risk," said Anthony Leachon, a former advisor to the National Task Force on COVID-19, in an interview on CNN Philippines.
The vaccination of minors, he said, should wait until the first quarter of 2022.
"Health care workers must be given additional protection," Leachon said.
Despite being fully vaccinated, health care workers still got sick as many of them were directly exposed to COVID-19 patients.
Some studies showed that the efficacy of the vaccines wane six months after a person is fully vaccinated, he said.
He said this was particularly true of medical frontliners who were vaccinated with China’s Sinovac vaccine.
Also on Friday, the Japanese government said it will donate 1.96 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to the Philippines, on top of the more than 1 million doses it delivered in July 2021.
Japan Ambassador to Manila Kazuhiko Koshikawa said this is to help the country boost its efforts to save lives and curb the spread of COVID-19.
“With a total of over 3 million doses, we hope this will boost efforts to end the pandemic and save more lives," he said on Twitter Friday. "Japan continues to support the Philippines' fight vs. COVID-19."
The Japanese Embassy in Manila said the latest aid would be shipped to the Philippines in batches before October ends, which would bring its total vaccine donation to the country to 3.08 million doses.
Meanwhile, the presidential adviser for entrepreneurship said higher vaccination rates of local government units (LGUs) would allow more business to open. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
Joey Concepcion welcomed the increase in capacity for various businesses, especially in LGUs that achieved 70 percent or higher vaccination rate for their constituents, a proposal from the private sector.
“That will serve now as incentive for LGUs that were able to achieve 70 percent and higher that they have plus 20 percent on top of their current capacity,” Concepcion said in a statement.
In addition to the 30 percent capacity allowed under Level 3 and 20 percent for areas with 70 percent or higher vaccination rate, Concepcion said establishments can get an additional 10 percent capacity if they have a government safety seal, giving them a total of 60 percent capacity.
“This is good news. We are definitely looking towards a great fourth quarter,” Concepcion said.