MANILA — Nearly half of the country's 1.2 million healthcare workers have yet to receive their second booster of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Department of Health.
As of Dec. 12, some 603,905 individuals under the A1 population or workers in frontline health services have availed of the second boosters.
"Out of the 1,196,107 eligible A1 population, 592,202 are currently due for 2nd boosters doses," the DOH said in a statement over the weekend.
The Philippines started giving second boosters to high-risk groups such as medical frontliners and older people in May.
Latest DOH figures show the country has provided second boosters to 3,691,412 eligible Filipinos.
"DOH reiterates that vaccination is not mandatory and that consent must always be asked," the agency said. "Current evidence only shows that 2nd boosters are only recommended for A1, A2, A3 aged 18 and above."
The second COVID-19 booster shot is still not recommended for the general population.
"When new evidence comes in, we can then assess and recommend 2nd boosters for the general population while going through the proper regulatory process," the DOH said.
Since the country began its vaccination drive in March 2021, some 73.7 million people or 94.38 percent have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Of the figure, some 21 million or 26.95 percent have received their first boosters.
The DOH has since conducted 4 special inoculation drives to have more Filipinos vaccinated.
As of Dec. 18, the Philippines has 17,900 active COVID-19 cases.
Early this month, the DOH disclosed that the number of wasted COVID-19 shots in the country has reached 44 million. The bulk of these doses came from local government units and the private sector, it added.