Plans underway for Covid-19 booster rollout: DOH

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

October 25, 2021, 1:41 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Health is awaiting the complete recommendation of an advisory committee before Covid-19 booster shots are offered to the vulnerable population, a health official said Monday.

In an online media forum, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department was in the planning stages, discussing the rollout of a third dose to a select group of people such as healthcare workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities.

"We're just waiting for the complete SAGE (Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization) recommendation which will be out by November,” Vergeire said, referring to the principal advisory group to the World Health Organization for vaccines and immunization.

Over the weekend, some reports circulated that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III approved the October 13 recommendation of the DOH's Health Technology Assessment Unit (HTAU) for booster shots and additional vaccines.

“Ito po ay nakuha doon sa HTAU website at pino-post naman po talaga ‘yan for transparency (It came from the HTAU website which is posted for transparency),” Vergeire said. “Lahat naman ng plano ay underway na tulad naman ng sabi namin sa inyo (All plans are underway and like what we told you) we will have this third doses for the immunocompromised, senior citizens and our boosters for our healthcare workers.”

Under HTAU's recommendation, boosters for healthcare workers and senior citizens will be given within the fourth quarter of this year if they have been vaccinated at least six months after the primary series.

It also stated the implementation of booster shots in 2022, observing the same prioritization strategy among eligible groups but only when the A1 to A5 priority groups have reached 50 percent vaccination.

“Pero kailangan po aantayin pa rin nating lahat ang emergency use authority [EUA] na manggagaling sa (But we need to wait for the emergency use authority from the) Food and Drug Administration. While waiting for the EUA we’re already planning and discussing how we can go about with the implementation,” Vergeire said. (PNA)