Same vaccine brand as COVID booster lessens health risk, says adviser

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2021 01:28 PM

Health workers receive booster shots of COVID-19 vaccine at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City November 17, 2021. The Philippines began the administration of booster shots to health workers, with the health department allowing recipients to choose the brand of vaccine depending on its availability. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Health workers receive booster shots of COVID-19 vaccine at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City November 17, 2021. The Philippines began the administration of booster shots to health workers, with the health department allowing recipients to choose the brand of vaccine depending on its availability. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Homologous vaccine combinations remain the safest choice against side effects, a health expert said Thursday, as the government rolled out its COVID booster vaccination program for health workers. 

Dr. Edsel Salvaña of the Department of Health Technical Advisory Group recommended getting homologous combinations, or getting the same brand of vaccine they received in their primary dose, as their booster. 

This, after several healthcare workers reported experiencing side-effects from having gotten heterologous combinations. 

"Kaninang umaga pag bukas ko ng mail ko, maraming nagrereklamo na yung side effects nila... pag pinaghalo kasi ang bakuna, mas mataas ang risk."

Salvaña assured that the risks, however, are not severe. 

He also emphasized that having completed the primary series of vaccines, or the first two jabs, already provides protection from severe or critical disease brought by COVID-19. 

On Wednesday, Health Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also said that there are more consistent studies regarding the safety and similar efficacy against severe or critical forms of COVID for homologous booster combinations.

Those who have history of adverse reactions to the vaccine are recommended to get a homologous booster combination. 

More adverse reactions are expected for heterologous booster combinations especially with mRNA vaccines. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Health is already creating guidelines for the administration of booster shots for the A2 and A3 priority groups, or those including senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities.

The guidelines may be expected within the next two weeks, and may be different from the instruction released for the A1 priority group, or those intended for healthcare workers, said Salvaña.

While booster shots will soon be made available to members of the public with special risks, the science behind booster shots is not yet mature, and is still evolving, Salvaña said in an interview with Teleradyo.

Despite previous doubts surrounding the efficacy of Sinovac against COVID-19, Salvaña shared that quite a lot of healthcare workers were reported to have preferred the said brand as their booster shot. 

The Philippines launched the inoculation of booster shots for its healthcare workers Wednesday, November 17. 

- With reports from Rowena Cos, ABS-CBN News