MANILA— The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said there is no need yet for the Philippines to procure COVID-19 booster shots at this time.
Booster shots are administered after the second dose of the vaccine as some COVID-19 jabs only provide immunity for a short time, DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
"Sa ngayon, wala pa pong sapat na ebidensya na makakapagsabi na kailangan na bigyan ng booster ang ating mga kababayan," she said in an online forum.
(As of now, there is insufficient evidence to say that our countrymen need booster shots.)
"Aantayin po natin ang lahat ng ebidensya. Hindi po natin kailangan magmadali para sa booster," she said.
(We will wait for the complete evidence. We do not need to rush to get the boosters.)
The DOH will not encourage the use of COVID-19 booster shots while vaccine supply remains limited, Vergeire said.
"Itong mga booster hindi din po din natin hinihikayat sa ngayon because we want to focus on equity," she said.
(We are not encouraging anyone to get the booster because we want to focus on equity.)
"Sa ngayon po hindi pa ganun ka-stable ang supply ng bakuna at hindi pa nabibigyan ang marami sa ating populasyon," she said.
(As of now, the vaccine supply is not that stable and majority of our population has yet to be vaccinated.)
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said it was wrong for wealthy nations to start discussions on booster shots against COVID-19 when millions of people in poorer countries remain unvaccinated.
"Ako po ay nananawagan sa United Nations, sa World Health Organization na pakiusapan ang mga mayayamang bansa na sa kasalukuyan ay pinag-uusapan na nila iyong booster dose or the third dose," he said in an earlier press briefing.
"Tingin ko hindi tama ito dahil marami pa, malaki pa ang porsiyento ng ating mga mamamayan sa buong mundo na hindi pa nakakatanggap ni isang dose ng COVID vaccines," added the official.
(I am calling on the United Nations, the World Health Organization to plead with rich countries that are already talking about a booster or third dose. I think this is wrong because a large percentage of people around the world have not yet even received one dose of COVID vaccines.)
As of July 5, the Philippines has fully vaccinated about 3 percent of its population, still way below the 70 percent mark needed to attain herd immunity against COVID-19.
So far, 2.9 million Filipinos have received their second dose of COVID-19 shots, while 9 million others have been jabbed with the first dose.