MANILA - Government should consider giving full approval to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines just like in the US to ramp up the number of persons with booster shots, a health reform advocate said Friday.
Vaccines against the respiratory illness currently have emergency use authorization in the Philippines.
Giving full regulatory approval would result in more trust from the public, according to Dr. Tony Leachon. Pfizer and Moderna will have full regulatory approval in the US by August 23, he said.
"If that will be adopted here in the country, since there will be a lot of people taking mRNA vaccine, that will actually help distribute ang mga bakuna (the vaccines) in drugstore chains all over the country," he said.
"It will actually add credibility and trust that this particular drug is not anymore EUA because of the safety issues. If it is full approval like in the States, it can be distributed by all the drug chains with medical doctors prescribing it...With doctors jumping in, I think the trust factors will be enhanced here."
A third dose will help prevent another COVID-19 surge in 2 month's time as warned by the World Health Organization, Leachon said.
"The WHO has warned that there will be a surge in the next 2 moths, and this is due to the waning immunity plus the looming coming of the variant--the omicron XE and BA.2--plus the mobility issue brought by the election campaign period in the Philippines," he said.
"Tamang-tama na magbooster (it would be right to give booster shots) and then you will be able to solve the 27 million expiring vaccines worth P2 billion in July. You solved there 2 problems if you're gong to do that."
The public must be educated first why a third booster is important before it is included in a new definition of full vaccination, Leachon added.
"In the Philippines kasi pag sinabi mong mandate may (when you mandate it there's certain resistance, I would take it in scientific and educative way. In private practice we have to address ignorance through education and the rest will follow," he said.
The Philippines has fully vaccinated some 66.3 million individuals as of April 5. At least 12.2 million people have received booster jabs.