MANILA – Following the United Kingdom’s move to shorten the interval between 1st and 2nd doses of Astrazeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday it is also studying similar measures.
In a virtual forum, DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said that an 8-week interval is indicated by the manufacturer and the World Health Organization.
Under the emergency use authorization issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for AstraZeneca, the 2nd dose can be given within 4 to 12 weeks after the first dose
A shortened interval between doses, meanwhile, is seen to speed up the process of fully vaccinating individuals.
“Yung nangyayari sa UK, shinorten nila para mas mabilis ang pagbabakuna or fully vaccinate ng mga tao. Pag-aaralan natin kasi itong pinapatupad natin is based on evidence which says you get a higher efficacy at a longer period of interval and that is 12 weeks,” Vergeire explained.
(The UK shortened their vaccination intervals to fast-track the vaccination of their residents. We are studying this because we are implementing guidelines based on evidence)
The long interval in between doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccines is also seen as one of the factors on why there has been a high number of people who have not received their second dose.
“Marami sa naka-first dose ng Astrazeneca, ngayon pa lang nila nakukuha ang kanilang mga 2nd doses. Unti-unting tataas yang 2nd doses na yan in the coming days.”
(Those who had received the first dose of AstraZeneca received their 2nd doses just now. The figure of those who are fully vaccinated will rise soon)
Epidemiologist Dr. John Wong earlier reported that around 50 percent of those who received the 1st dose of COVID-19 jabs have not returned to receive the 2nd dose.
But Vergeire explained that these were based on assumptions.
“On the ground the actual numbers would be 113,000 na hindi pa naka-receive ng 2nd dose.”
The DOH added that the time infection rates were increasing in the NCR Plus bubble — Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, and Cavite — was also the same period when vaccine allocations were high in the region.
Some were also not able to receive the 2nd dose after getting infected or after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.
Missing the 2nd dose on the specified schedule, however, does not mean that one would need to go back to the first dose, according to the health official.
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“Pwede silang bumalik kahit na-miss nila yung 2nd schedule nila at pwede silang bakunahan. Sa mga nakamiss ng 2nd dose, maaaring magpunta sa vaccination site at ma-reschedule sa local government. Kontakin ang barangay o LGU para maayos ang rescheduling,” Vergeire said.
(They can still get their 2nd dose if they missed their schedule. Those who missed it should go to their vaccination sites so it could be rescheduled by their local governments. I urge them to contact their localities and villages)
As of May 30, the Philippines has fully vaccinated 1.2 million people or about 1 percent of its total population, according to data from the DOH.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has so far administered 5.38 million doses, according to data from the DOH.
The country's population is over 108 million and its confirmed coronavirus infections stood at over 1.25 million.