Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. says the government is planning to begin administering a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare workers and the country’s vulnerable sector by November or early December.
“Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and I are already preparing [revaccination] since the World Health Organization has given its inclination for the vaccination for third dosing, considering that the immunity will lapse,” Galvez reported to President Rodrigo Duterte during the taped Talk to the People.
The Department of Health is awaiting WHO’s official recommendation to give additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised persons, senior citizens, and healthcare workers.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the WHO was expected to release its final recommendation by November.
Vergeire clarified that booster shots and additional doses were different and the WHO had yet to recommend a third shot for the general population.
According to experts, a booster shot is an additional dose after the protection of the original shot has decreased over time, while a third shot is for those with certain health conditions to help further protect them from severe COVID-19 cases or death.
Following a four-day meeting, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization on Oct. 11 said those with weakened immunity should receive an additional shot.
SAGE said they were “less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease.”
The government has so far allowed the administration of the COVID-19 vaccines of the following companies: Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, and Gamaleya Institute.
It needs to wait for the emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines to be amended to include a third dose, Vergeire had said.