Philippines rolls out 2nd booster shot to elderly, health workers

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2022 11:35 AM | Updated as of May 26 2022 12:58 PM

A senior citizen gets her second booster shot at the Department of Health's ceremonial rollout in Mandaluyong City on Thursday. Screengrab from DOH/PCOO
A senior citizen gets her second booster shot at the Department of Health's ceremonial rollout in Mandaluyong City on Thursday. Screengrab from DOH/PCOO

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines rolled out second COVID-19 booster shots to the elderly and health workers on Thursday, as the country stayed on guard against more infectious coronavirus variants.

The Health Technology and Assessment Council earlier this month recommended the second booster jab for medical workers and senior citizens. 

Following HTAC’s recommendation, messenger RNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna will be given at least 4 months after the administration of the first booster dose, according to the Department of Health.

In a ceremonial launch in Mandaluyong City, Mayor Benjamin Abalos Sr., 3 medical frontliners, and 3 senior citizens were given a Pfizer jab as their second booster.

The health workers received a homologous booster, or the same brand of vaccine as their first additional dose, while the elderly were given a heterologous shot from a different brand. 

Some 1.09 million health workers and 2.14 million senior citizens are eligible for second booster shots as of May 19, according to DOH data.

"The virus is unpredictable, nagbabago-bago... Kaya we should not put our guards down," Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said.

(The virus is unpredictable, it's ever-changing... So we should not put our guards down.)

"Wag ho tayong matumal. Sana mag-speed [up] pa tayo. Rampahan pa natin nang rampahan, baka maunahan po tayo ng surge."

(Let's not slacken. Let's speed up and ramp up our vaccination even more before a surge gets ahead of us.)

Government initially rolled out the second booster to immunocompromised persons following HTAC's recommendation and has so far administered it to 30,912 members of the vulnerable sector as of May 18, according to Cabotaje, head of the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC).
        
As of Monday, some 69 million or 76.76 percent of the eligible 90 million population in the country have been fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease, according to Malacañang. Of those with primary doses, 13.89 million have received their booster shots.

“The second booster for our health workers and senior citizens will enhance protection given by the first booster and the primary series against all variants, including the recent omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said. 

"Everyone eligible can get the second booster jab done at the LGU vaccination sites nearest you. They are safe, effective, and free of charge."

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