BOOSTER FOR HCWs. Healthcare workers (HCWs) receive their booster shots against Covid-19 at the NKTI in Quezon City Wednesday (Nov. 17, 2021). The DOH said the HCWs have the option to receive a homologous or heterologous booster dose, depending on the availability of vaccine brands at the vaccination site. (PNA photos by Robert Alfiler)

MANILA – The government has set aside up to two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine for the third dose vaccination of fully inoculated healthcare workers nationwide, National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Wednesday.

Welcoming the arrival of 3,530,400 doses of government-procured Sinovac vaccine, Galvez said the government is crafting guidelines for the administration of booster shots to senior citizens, immunocompromised, and persons with comorbidities.

"We are also expecting that more or less five million senior citizens will be accommodated for the third dose or the boosters," he said.

Galvez said the government is targeting to complete the administration of booster shots to healthcare workers by end of this month, to ensure that medical front-liners will get strong protection against the infection "once the cases will spike again."

"Kasi iba yung protocol ng handling ng boosters for the healthcare workers, iba rin ang protocols and guidelines doon sa para sa mga elderly at immunocompromised (Because we have different handling protocols and guidelines of booster shots for healthcare workers, elderly and immunocompromised)," Galvez said in an interview during the ceremonial booster inoculation at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City.

Once the National Vaccine Operations Center (NVOC) issues the final guidelines, Galvez said the administration of booster doses to other priority sectors "may start by early next week or end of the month."

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured that the administration of booster shots to the general public "will eventually happen."

"Pero syempre tapusin muna natin 'yung vulnerable groups (but of course, we need to finish the vulnerable groups," Duque said, adding that there is still a need to scale up the administration of primary doses.

"We hope to see there will be a lesser infection and more importantly sana mas kakaunti, sana mawala ang severe to critical cases sa hanay ng ating mga healthcare workers (we hope to lessen or eliminate severe to critical cases among our healthcare workers)," he said.

The government has started the booster vaccination in various hospitals on Wednesday following the issued interim recommendation of the Strategic Advisory Group of Expert connected to the World Health Organization last month. (PNA)