PH approves vaccine booster shots for healthcare workers

BOOSTER SHOT. Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III vaccinates one of the health workers her third dose of Covid-19 vaccine during the start of booster vaccination at NKTI Gymnasium, Quezon City on Wednesday, November 17. Also present were NTF Covid-19 Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., DOH Undersecretary Dr. Leopoldo Vega, and other government officials.  PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler

FULLY-VACCINATED healthcare workers in the Philippines may get their booster shots against COVID-19 starting November 17.

The country’s Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, Nov. 15, made the announcement following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to approve the emergency use of four COVID-19 vaccines as additional doses.

“All fully-vaccinated healthcare workers may avail of booster doses starting 17 November 2021 (Wednesday),” the DOH said in a public advisory.

The agency also recommended Moderna, Pfizer, and Sinovac as booster doses regardless of the brand used in the primary series.

“Sinovac will also be offered as a booster for those that had Sinovac as primary series,” it added.

The FDA had approved the amended emergency use authorization (EUA) Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, and Sputnik to be used as booster shots and additional doses.

According to FDA Director General Eric Domingo, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Sinovac could be used as homologous vaccines or using the same type of vaccine as a third shot.

“Ibig sabihin, kapag naka-dalawang Pfizer, after six months, maaaring magbigay ng isa pa (This means, if you have received two Pfizer shots, after six months, you can receive another shot of it),” he said Tuesday, Nov. 16, in a taped public address.

Meanwhile, single-dose Sputnik Light could be used as a booster shot or additional dose regardless of the vaccine brand of the primary series.

Fully-vaccinated healthcare workers can choose the COVID-19 vaccine brand as their booster shot, said the DOH.

Under the DOH Memorandum 2021-0484, healthcare workers have the option to receive a homologous or heterologous booster dose depending on the availability of vaccine brands at the vaccination site.

If the individuals choose a different brand as their booster, they may receive the following:

  • Sinovac: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna
  • AstraZeneca: Pfizer or Moderna
  • Sputnik V: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or a Moderna
  • Janssen: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna
  • Pfizer: AstraZeneca or Moderna
  • Moderna: AstraZeneca or Pfizer

The DOH noted that those who received AstraZeneca as their primary series are recommended to be “boosted” with a different vaccine platform due to “the theoretical possibility of pre-existing immunity attenuating or weakening the immune response on the second or third dose.”

“Vaccine recipients with a previous history of adverse reactions after administration of Covid-19 vaccine – the elderly, people with comorbidities, people prone to blood clots, myocarditis, and anaphylaxis – shall consult their attending physician for the recommended boosting strategy,” the agency added.

Fully-vaccinated healthcare workers can only receive one booster shot, given at least six months after completing their primary series.

In March, the Philippines kicked off its national vaccination drive.

So far, some 31.57 million have completed their COVID-19 shots, while 38.14 million have received their first dose.

The country aims to at least inoculate 50 million before the end of this year to achieve herd immunity. n

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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