2nd booster shot rolls out for immunocompromised

The rollout of the second booster for COVID-19 vaccines for the immunocompromised is set to begin on April 25 nationwide, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Friday.

During a media forum, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said only immunocompromised individuals who are 18 years old and above will be allowed to receive their second booster shot as early as three months after their first booster.

Among the brands that will be used are AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said he has already approved the rollout of a second COVID-19 booster for immunocompromised persons.

Duque said these patients include those who have cancer, recipients of organ transplants, and HIV/AIDS patients.

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He stressed that frontline health care providers and senior citizens are not yet covered by the expected rollout of second booster shots next week.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the emergency use authorization (EUA) for second booster shots for the senior citizens, the immunocompromised, and frontline health front liners, the DOH said Wednesday.

Unlike in the past, the rollout of additional jabs for the immunocompromised will not be pilot tested anymore in Metro Manila, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said.

“No more NCR phase 1. We would like to roll it out nationwide immediately on Monday after we have discussed the guidelines with our implementers,” Cabotaje said in an interview on ANC.

Cabotaje echoed the recommendation of the government’s vaccine expert panel that using heterologous or a different vaccine brand as an additional booster jab would be more effective against COVID-19.

Cabotaje also disclosed that the global vaccine sharing program COVAX had offered to replace expiring vaccines it provided.

This, after presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion warned that some 27 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines are set to expire in July.

To date, some 67 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Of the figure, only 12.7 million have received their first booster dose.

The DOH urged the public to get their booster shot against COVID-19 as soon as possible to improve their immunity against the virus.

Booster uptake in the Philippines remains low amid the threat of the more transmissible coronavirus subvariant.

“If there’s the best time to receive booster shots to improve immunity against COVID-19, that’s now,” Duque said.

He said that vaccination sites are not yet jam-packed, and supplies remain stable.

Waiting to get a booster shot until a surge happens may actually become a problem, he warned

“If you’re going to wait for a surge before you get your booster shots, that would be a problem. Why? Because more health care workers would be reporting to hospitals to tend to patients,” Duque said.

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