MANILA (UPDATE) - Local authorities on Thursday launched an investigation regarding the supposed double COVID-19 vaccination of a fully-immunized person using different brands.
Based on social media posts seen by ABS-CBN News on Thursday, a man got his second dose of Sinovac in Mandaluyong on May 10, and got another virus jab manufactured by Moderna in Quezon City just this week.
His post after getting the Moderna shot included the hashtag #boostered. He also thanked some people for "helping me out."
Booster COVID-19 shots are still prohibited in the country, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said. He added that the Inter-Agency Task Force is discussing the possibility of imposing penalties on people found out to have gotten unauthorized booster shots.
The netizen, who has since deleted his posts, has yet to reply to queries sent by the news team.
Dr. Daisy Costales, Mandaluyong's Vaccination Coordinator, told ABS-CBN News that they would seek an investigation on the incident, and would monitor the said person's possible side effects for a year.
"What we are going to do is... monitor the patient for any untowards reaction. Parang ang nangyari, ang purpose siguro ng taong ito is to get a booster shot. He is aware that he is fully vaccinated with Sinovac," Costales told ABS-CBN News.
"The best thing that we could do is to monitor him... We will try to contact the patient, we will ask what's his purpose," she added.
She said other localities should have made a thorough screening of possible vaccine recipients, and could have reiterated that booster shots are still not allowed in the Philippines.
"We have our system naman na lahat ng nababakunahan, we upload it in our system... We will make sure na hindi sila (unvaccinated residents) listed sa mga taong naka-receive na ng bakuna dati."
(We will make sure that those vaccinated from COVID-19 will not be vaccinated again.)
Mandaluyong Mayor Menchie Abalos said she would also check the incident as well as their vaccination system.
"Kapag nag-register naman sa MandaVax namin, hindi naman namin alam kung nagpabakuna na kayo or hindi. I’ll check that," she said.
(If you are registered in MandaVax, we no don't know if you have already been vaccinated.)
“Pwede ring gumamit siya ng ibang pangalan sa first niya or sa ngayon.”
(Maybe he used different names.)
Joseph Juico, co-chairperson of Quezon City's Task Force Vax to Normal, confirmed that the person has a COVID-19 vaccination record in the city, adding that the local government would also launch an investigation on the incident.
"I am aware of the situation and we will not take this lightly," Juico told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
Based on his team's initial assessment, the man got listed at the vaccination site with the help of his company.
"We are trying to find out if the organization that referred him knew that he already took his previous shot in Mandaluyong City prior... to having listing his name," he explained.
"Aware siya, but we are not sure if the organization... who referred him to us was aware that he was vaccinated already."
He added that his local government is "mulling over" steps to prevent similar incidents from happening.
Both Juico and Costales criticized the man for getting a booster shot at government vaccination site.
"Our legal department is studying kung ano 'yung mga (what) legal action that we can take against this person. But definitely, we would also like to hear his side, what transpired, what happened, para fair din naman (so it is fair)."
"But definitely, he should have known that there is no program for us to give booster shots. Wala pa tayo do'n (we are not there yet)."
Abalos also slammed the netizen for having the audacity to post the photo of being vaccinated with a booster.
"Salbahe rin siya ha. Nakaisa na nga siya, magpo-post pa siya ng ganyan.”
The incident was discovered as the country still struggles to get a hold of COVID-19 vaccines, with many still yearning to get a first shot against the disease amid the threat of the more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.
Just last week, chaos spread in some vaccination sites in Metro Manila, with hundreds to thousands lining up driven by false information regarding restrictions against people still not immunized from the respiratory disease.
"We don't even have any DOH guidelines regarding booster shots. DOH is not even encouraging that as of the moment... Given the limited supply of vaccines that we have, we need to prioritize those who have not received a single shot," said Juico.
"There's a person who is already on his third shot. Napakasuwerte naman niya 'no? (He is so lucky.) It's quite frustrating from a person who's trying to instill order in the city for equitable distribution of vaccines... Hindi naman fair 'yon (It is unfair)," the official added.
The incident also came in light of calls for government to immediately establish a common vaccination proof for all.
A government official in June said the Department of Information and Communications Technology is working on a "common vaccination digital ID with QR code."
Currently, local government units issue cards to individuals who have received their COVID-19 vaccines.
The card contains information on the brand of vaccine used, the number of doses, and the dates of administration. Vaccination cards vary per city and municipality.
The Mandaluyong mayor said it is time to centralize the country's vaccine database.
“‘Yan ang maganda, dapat centralized ang ginagawa ng DICT to avoid that kind of incident," Abalos said.
(That is a good idea. The DICT should have centralized the system to avoid that kind of incident.)
The Hong Kong government refuses to accept the vaccination cards issued in the Philippines because they do not come from a single source, affecting overseas Filipino workers seeking employment there.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. had said he would reach out to HK Chief Executive Carrie Lam to appeal.
ABS-CBN News has reached out to the Department of Health (DOH) for comment on the supposed double vaccination, but its staff said the information will be forwarded to the National Vaccine Operations Center (NVOC).
- With reports from Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News