(File photo)

MANILA – The number of ailments in a person should also be considered as criteria for second booster eligibility, the country's Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) said Wednesday.

In a Laging Handa briefing, VEP chairperson Nina Gloriani said a person who has two or more diseases is similarly vulnerable to severe coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

"We agree, we actually recommend na 'yong mga may comorbidities (masama) kasi hindi rin natin malaman ano ang level ng immunocompromised na tinatawag sa comorbidity (We agree, we actually recommend that those with comorbidity should be eligible because we don't really know the level of immunocompromised among those with comorbidity)," she said.

Gloriani cited a recent study showing that for those with two or more ailments, such as diabetes and chronic respiratory illness, the level of immunocompromise is higher.

"Mas mataas ang immunocompromise ng taong 'yon so kailangan nating ma-consider 'yon sa pagbibigay ng second booster as well. Hindi necessarily sinabi nating parang wala siyang immunocompromise, kailangan malaman natin 'yong medical status plus how many ba 'yan (Their immunocompromise is higher so we should also consider that when giving second booster. We need to know their medical status and the number of their disease)," she said.

At present, immunocompromised persons who are eligible for a second booster include those who have cancer, HIV/AIDS, primary immunodeficiency, those who take immunosuppressants, and those who received an organ transplant.

Latest data from the Department of Health showed that almost 580,000 of the eligible population, including healthcare workers and senior citizens have received their additional boosters. (PNA)