Vaccinated Filipinos who have completed their Sinovac doses would be allowed to choose any brand as booster shot approved by regulatory bodies, the country's vaccine czar said Wednesday.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, told CNN Philippines' The Source they were waiting for the approved amendment of the current emergency use authorization issued to COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.
The manufacturers are expected to submit their applications for the amended EUA of their boosters within the week.
Upon approval by the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization-Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (WHO-SAGE) will give its final recommendation by mid-November on which vaccine brand can be used for a third dose or mixed with the previous doses administered.
He said Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, intimated to the task force the final guidelines would be out "more or less" on Nov.15, and the government would execute it immediately.
"We will prioritize the health workers and immunocompromised ahead of the other priority sectors," Galvez said.
"We are still waiting for the guidance from WHO if we can give the heterologous or different brand considering that...healthcare workers (want to) choose their own vaccine."
"In case WHO-SAGE approves Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik, and even AstraZeneca as viable doses for boosters, once WHO says they can be applied under mix-and-match, we can deploy them,” Galvez added.
The Health department recently approved the recommendation of the Health Technology Assessment Council to give booster shots for healthcare workers and senior citizens six months after they complete the single- or two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, while immunocompromised patients can get additional shots at least 28 days after they complete their vaccination.
Mixing-and-matching of vaccine brands is allowed for Sinovac and AstraZeneca, the HTAC said.
It added that those who completed their Sinovac shots should preferably be given Pfizer or AstraZeneca as their booster six months after completing their two doses.
Boosters are given to those whose COVID-19 immunity has waned over time after vaccination while a third dose is for those who did not generate a strong immune response following COVID-19 immunization.
DOH said 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.
Galvez earlier said the government would 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.