MANILA — A lawmaker on Wednesday called on government to give second COVID-19 booster doses to the general population.
According to Iloilo First District Rep. and former health secretary Janette Garin, Filipinos need additional protection as various omicron subvariants emerge.
At present, the second booster shot is only available for health workers, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals.
"If I want added protection, why will I be prevented if it will not create any harm? And we have enough supplies," she told ANC.
"There are expiring vaccines, there are people who want a second shot, a second booster, and actual real-world data shown advantages of having 2 boosters especially among those with comorbidities and among those 50 years old and above," added the lawmaker.
As of June 1, the Philippines has received a total of 245 million vaccine doses, according to the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
Of those, over 194 million doses have been distributed as of May 29, said the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, which monitors government data.
Nearly 70.7 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Of the figure, only 15 million have received additional jab.
Instead of donating the expiring COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, the government should use them on the general population, a public health advocate said.
According to Dr. Minguita Padilla, economic frontliners should also be allowed to get their second COVID-19 booster shots.
The Health Technology Assessment Council has yet to decide whether to allow another booster shot for the general public.
"One of the problems we see with HTAC is they're looking for very, very solid evidence," Padilla said. "But you have a pandemic like this and even the CDC in the US, they're going by the real-world data, meaning as it's happening."
"Sometimes overcaution can be detrimental to the public welfare," she added.
The Philippines is currently experiencing a spike in new coronavirus infections amid the presence of more transmissible variants and the population's waning immunity.