MANILA—The Philippines is looking into providing an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine to priority groups by November or December should the state regulators amend the emergency use authorization to existing jabs, a health official said Monday.
"Ito pong gagawin nating third doses and booster shots, it’s going to be this baka last quarter po," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told TeleRadyo.
"Ito pong parating na Nobyembre at Disyembre magawa natin kung lalabas po 'yung emergency use authority na manggagaling sa Food and Drug Administration."
(The administering of third doses and booster shots might be this last quarter. We might be able to do it this coming November and December if the Food and Drug Administration will issue an emergency use authority.)
Health Secretary Francisco Duque has approved a recommendation by the Health Technology Assessment Council to give additional anti-virus shot to health-care workers and other priority groups.
According to the website of the Department of Health, HTAC is an independent advisory body created under Universal Health Care Act, "with the overall role of providing guidance to the DOH and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation on the coverage of health interventions and technologies to be funded by the government."
Vergeire said the FDA must amend the emergency use approval of existing COVID-19 vaccines to allow a booster dose or additional shot.
She said booster doses are given if the protection offered by the vaccine drops over time.
Meanwhile, third doses are provided if jab recipients such as those considered immunocompromised have not mounted appropriate immunity against COVID-19.
As of Oct. 21, there are more than 25 million fully vaccinated individuals in the country. This is 32.54 percent of the government's target of 77 million population.
Meanwhile, some 9,928 children with comorbidities in Metro Manila have received the anti-virus jab in the government's pilot pediatric vaccination.
The inoculation program will be rolled out nationwide starting Oct. 29, Vergeire said.
The DOH had said it was planning additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised people due to higher risk of breakthrough infection.
The World Health Organization had advised countries of providing additional COVID-19 jab to people with lower immunity due to underlying health conditions.
The WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization said the additional dose should be offered "as part of an extended primary series since these individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease."