Health dept studies once-a-year Covid shots

THE Department of Health (DoH) is studying the possibility of giving free anti-Covid-19 shots once a year.

In a radio interview on Monday, Health Undersecretary and National Vaccination Operations Center Chairman Myrna Cabotaje said there is a big chance that Covid shots will be done annually.

The government will have to study if the annual inoculation will be for the general population or for the vulnerable sectors only.

Cabotaje said that vaccines will be given free unless these are issued a certificate of product registration (CPR). The Food and Drug Administration issues CPR for marketing a product after evaluating its safety, efficacy and quality.

Vaccines are free because they have been given emergency use authorization by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration.

National Task Force Against Covid-19 medical adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa sees the possibility that the vaccines will be granted a commercial license in the last quarter of the year. He said companies must first complete phase three trials before they can apply for a CPR.

Cabotaje also said the Health department wants to continue its Covid vaccination even during the Holy Week.

She said the DoH has requested government and private hospitals and other health facilities to study this possibility.

“It would depend on local government units (LGUs),” Cabotaje said.

She acknowledged that there would be no vaccinations from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday, which are considered holy days in the Catholic faith.

Cabotaje also noted that vaccination centers in Mindanao may be closed during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar which is marked by fasting.

In a related development, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) plans to revise its vaccination policy in a bid to increase the country's declining inoculation rate.

In a briefing on Monday, Interior Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Epimaco Densing 3rd said the policy shift will include the redefinition of “expired vaccination.”

Under the plan, vaccination cards of individuals who have yet to receive booster jabs after six months since receiving the secondary shot will be considered as expired.

The term “fully vaccinated” will also be expanded to include those who have received booster jabs, Densing said.

The shift is being studied after the DILG noted a drop in the vaccination rate.

“Bukas lahat ng vaccination sites sa iba't-ibang lokal na gobyerno at medyo kumokonti 'yung tao kaya pinag-uusapan namin kung pano mapaigting (All vaccination sites in various local governments are open yet the number of people getting jabs is dwindling. So we are talking about how to reintensify vaccinations),” Densing said.

He said the LGUs in Metro Manila remain the leaders in administering booster shots with 12 million jabs. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ranks last.

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