The Department of Health (DOH) has approved the recommendation of an experts' panel for COVID-19 booster shots for senior citizens, immunocompromised individuals and health care workers.
Those who have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine should get a Pfizer booster shot, while those jabbed with the Janssen vaccine should get a Janssen booster shot.
But for those who received vaccines from AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Moderna, the preferred booster shot is Pfizer, although the same brand may also be given as a booster.
“The bottomline is that the booster shot should be the same platform or homologous, as much as possible,” said Dr. Consorcia Lim Quizon of the Department of Health’s National Immunization Technical Advisory Group. “So if you got Pfizer, Sinovac, whatever, it’s the same booster that you’re supposed to get.”
She added, however, that the government may allow the mixing of vaccine jabs and booster shots from different brands because research has already been done on this, and a particular brand may not be available.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. confirmed in a Palace briefing that the government is considering “heterologous vaccination” or mixing different vaccine brands for booster shots for fully vaccinated people.
He said, however, that the emergency use authorization (EUA) issued to different vaccine brands must also be amended before giving them as booster shots.
Galvez said the government will allot about 7 million doses for third and booster shots for priority groups.
Of these, 2 million will be set aside for healthcare workers and 5 million will be allotted to immunocompromised individuals and senior citizens.
Apart from the booster shots, Galvez said the government also wants to vaccinate 90 percent of the country’s student population and teaching personnel to gradually bring the country back to normalcy.
Galvez also said the government is focused on pediatric vaccination, given the psychological and emotional toll of the pandemic on the youth as a result of the nearly two years of lockdowns and restrictions.
Once the children are vaccinated against the coronavirus, the government could start easing the restrictions, allowing young people to go out, socialize, and play, he said.
With the help of the local government units (LGUs), Galvez said he is optimistic that pediatric vaccination will be completed by December this year.
The booster shots for senior citizens, immunocompromised individuals and health care workers, on the other hand, may spill over into 2022, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
The DOH has given the go signal for booster and additional shots of COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers and the elderly within the year, and eligible priority groups by 2022.
Vergeire said the agency has submitted its letter of intent for the application of the EUA to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that it is working on completing the required documents.
Vergeire said the EUA of the vaccines must be amended as it specifically states the number of doses that must be administered.
Vergeire said the booster shots are given when immunity is starting to wane several months after the last jab was administered.
On the other hand, additional doses, or the third doses, are given to individuals whose bodies cannot mount the appropriate immunity against the sickness.
The Philippines logged 4,393 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the number of cases to 2,765,672
The relatively low number of cases was due to lower laboratory output on Sunday, Oct. 24, the DOH said.
There were 135 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 42,077.
The DOH also reported 8,470 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,669,953.
There were 53,642 active cases, of which 74.8 percent were mild, 6.7 percent were asymptomatic, 2.4 percent were critical, 5.8 percent were severe, and 10.37 percent were moderate.
Nationwide, 53 percent of ICU beds, 40 percent of isolation beds, 37 percent of ward beds, and 35 of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 47 percent of ICU beds, 34 percent of isolation beds, 32 percent of ward beds, and 32 of ventilators, were in use.