DOH: No approval yet on COVID-19 booster shots contrary to reports

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2021 06:47 PM | Updated as of Sep 13 2021 07:43 PM

Transport Network Vehicles Service (TNVS) drivers receive their vaccines as part of the Grab‘s ‘Vacc to Normal’ campaign at its newly launched vaccination facility at the Wilcon IT hub in Makati City on September 01, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Transport Network Vehicles Service (TNVS) drivers receive their vaccines as part of the Grab‘s ‘Vacc to Normal’ campaign at its newly launched vaccination facility at the Wilcon IT hub in Makati City on September 01, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) has yet to approve COVID-19 booster jabs for anyone in the Philippines, the Department of Health said Monday. 

In a statement, the health agency said the All Expert Group (AEG) has also yet to come up with guidelines regarding the distribution of COVID-19 boosters. 

The AEG assesses the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 jabs while also "guiding" the implementation of the country's immunization program, an entry from the DOH's website read. 

"The [Vaccine Expert Panel] gave their recommendations but will still be deliberated by AEG, and DOH will decide based on the recommendations from the experts," according to the DOH. 

This came following reports that Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that NITAG already gave the green light to give a third shot of COVID-19 vaccines to health workers. 

Earlier in the day, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. was quoted as saying that health workers would be prioritized in the booster rollout. 

On Saturday, infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said booster shots should already be given to health workers, most especially those who received Sinovac in March. 

Solante, a member of the VEP, said studies showed that antibodies from Sinovac waned after 6 to 8 months. 

Medical frontliners were among those who received the first Sinovac jabs. 

Earlier this month, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at least 50 percent of the population should first be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before government starts administering booster jabs.

It was an estimate coming from experts, adding that this should be considered out of fairness for people who have not been vaccinated with a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine. 

To date, nearly 16.8 million individuals in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while almost 22 million have received their first doses. 

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