(File photo)

MANILA – The country must first vaccinate at least 50 percent of the population before considering booster shots, the Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday, citing some experts.

"[I]yong ibang eksperto natin tinatalaga na at least 50 percent sana ay nabakunahan na para hindi naman ma-disenfranchise iyong mga taong hindi pa nababakunahan kahit isang dose kung tayo po ay sasabak na sa booster dosing (Some of our experts have suggested having 50 percent vaccinated population before getting into booster dosing so as not to disenfranchise those who yet to receive their first dose)," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a Laging Handa briefing.

But ideally, Vergeire said the goal must be to achieve first "population protection" or the inoculation of up to 70 million people in the country.

"[W]hen we talk about population protection, we are vaccinating those people who are most vulnerable," she said.

Vergiere said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is expected to issue a recommendation on September 6 based on discussion with several experts’ groups.

Apart from this, the task force is also set to discuss the vaccination of minors age 12 to 17, but Vergeire did not indicate any timeline when the inoculation might start.

"Kailangan natin tingnan iyong safety, pangalawa po siyempre ilang populasyon or ilang number ng mga bata ang kailangan nating bakunahan para makita natin (We need to ensure its safety and of course we need to know first how many children need to be vaccinated) how it’s going to be part of the vaccination program based on the supplies that we have right now," she said.

"[H]indi po natin sinasabing hindi natin gagawin, sinasabi lang ho natin pag-aaralan at magbibigay na po ng rekomendasyon sa Lunes ang ating mga eksperto (We're not saying we're not going to do it; we just need to study it first and our experts will give their recommendation on Monday)," she added.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for minors, allowing it to be administered to those aged 12 and up. (PNA)