DOH revives push to redefine 'fully vaccinated', include booster jab

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2022 12:59 PM

Makati residents line up to get their second booster shots against COVID-19 inside a mall in Makati City on July 28, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Makati residents line up to get their second booster shots against COVID-19 inside a mall in Makati City on July 28, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health is reviving its push to redefine the term "fully vaccinated" by including a booster shot against COVID-19.

According to DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, the agency is concerned with the low uptake of booster shots and waning immunity as cases of omicron subvariants increase.

"We are now again proposing to the Office of the President that our fully vaccinated definition be refined, that we will now include the first booster shot," she told ANC's "Headstart" on Wednesday.

The DOH made a similar proposal to the previous administration but the plan was postponed to prioritize the reopening of the country's economy.

In surveys conducted by the agency, it found out that Filipinos have not only gotten hesitant in getting the additional jab, they have become complacent, too.

"They are already confident with their first 2 doses and that because there are not much severe and critical [cases], so they say that enough na 'yung 2 doses nila," Vergeire said.

Another reason cited by respondents was that booster shots are not required in offices or schools, she added.

On Tuesday, the country recorded 924 additional cases of highly transmissible omicron subvariants BA.5, BA.4, and BA.2.12.1.

In particular, the BA.5 subvariant is contributing to the continued increase in the number of cases, Vergeire said. But she noted that evidence suggests the omicron subvariant will not cause severe infection.

"So, we are very hopeful that even though cases are increasing, we can still manage and our healthcare system will not be overwhelmed," Vergeire added.

The administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has pledged to administer COVID-19 booster shots to 23 million eligible individuals in its first 100 days.

As of Monday, some 71.9 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated. Of the figure, 16.6 million have received an additional dose, while 1.5 million have received a second booster.