MANILA—The Philippines on Monday began the administration of COVID-19 booster shots for senior citizens and third doses for immunocompromised individuals, allowing more Filipinos get additional protection against the virus.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the rollout of additional jabs for the A2 and A3 priority groups would be conducted in phases, saying it is not yet available for the general population.
"Hindi pa lahat ng A3 ay mababakunahan ng booster. Mag-umpisa po tayo sa immunocompromised individuals," she told Teleradyo.
(Not all those belonging to A3 will be given additional jabs. Let's start with immunocompromised individuals.)
Included in this category are those in immunodeficiency state; people living with HIV: active cancer or malignancy; transplant patients; and patients under immunosuppressive treatments.
Vergeire stressed those who want to receive the additional COVID-19 vaccine must be preregistered and have clearance from their attending physician.
Booster doses are given if the protection offered by the vaccine drops over time, she previously said.
Meanwhile, third doses are provided if jab recipients such as those considered immunocompromised have not mounted appropriate immunity against COVID-19.
The government started last week administering additional COVID-19 jabs to fully-vaccinated health-care workers.
In the interview, Vergeire disclosed the health department was also looking into administering additional jabs for the elderly and immunocompromised during the national vaccination drive.
The government aims to vaccinate at least 15 million Filipinos for the 3-day campaign, which is set on Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, she added.
The Philippines has inoculated over 75 million people since it began administering the COVID-19 vaccine in March.
The government has relaxed restrictions in most parts of the country as it has fully vaccinated 43.38 percent of its adult population or more than 33.4 million people.
The country reported 2,227 new coronavirus cases for Sunday. It has recorded a total of 2,826,410 infections, with 47,074 deaths so far.