Be careful with getting 4 doses of COVID-19 vaccine: neurosurgeon

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2022 12:39 PM

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MANILA - A neurosurgeon on Wednesday urged the public to be cautious amid reports of people getting more than the 3 prescribed doses of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Except for the single-dose Janssen, coronavirus shots used in the Philippines required 2 doses for the primary series. Regulators later allowed giving a booster dose after at least 3 months.

However, there had been individuals who took a second round of 2-dose series. Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, a neurosurgeon who also serves as director of the Philippine General Hospital, said he cautions his friends who did this.

"Right now, we don’t know what the effect is, but these are very new vaccines...The data will probably come in the middle of this year or late this year. We don’t know what the effect of 4 vaccine doses will be, that’s why we really have to be careful because the process occurs within our body and we don’t see it," he told ANC's Headstart.

"I think we really should wait for data before we decide on any unknown intervention for ourselves," he said.

Legaspi said he had seen patients—young ones and even children—who had a condition called "sub sclerosing panencephalitis" years after receiving certain vaccines.

"Thankfully, they’re rare, but this is an example that since we don’t know so much about these vaccines yet, I think we should be cautious about them," he said.

The PGH chief noted that there had been initial studies in Israel about giving a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and preliminary data suggested that it is "beneficial to those who received and so far, no harm was seen."

"We are guided by science, we should be guided by good science. I think as soon as the data shows that it is efficacious and doesn’t carry too much risks in giving it and the benefit outweighs the risks, I think we’ll be the first one to give it to our healthcare workers," he said.

According to the monitoring by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, some 3.85 million booster doses have been given in the Philippines. In total, there are 49.76 million individuals in the country who are fully vaccinated.