PH vaccine supply enough for shorter gap on boosters— official


Posted at Dec 22 2021 10:28 AM | Updated as of Dec 22 2021 10:50 AM

MANILA— There is enough vaccine supply for government to carry out the approved shorter gap for booster COVID-19 shots, Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Wednesday. 

"Meron ho ang bansa na committed doses na almost 200 million doses. We were able to receive 150 million doses, so sa ngayon 'pag tiningnan natin, sobra-sobra ang supplies ng bansa (We have received 150 million of the committed 200 million doses, so we actually have more than we need)," Vergeire said in an interview with Teleradyo. 

She assured that more supplies are expected, with about 25 million more doses set to arrive before the year ends. 

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the recommendation of the Philippines' vaccine expert panel to shorten to 3 months the interval for the administration of booster doses, from the previous 6-month period.

The health official encouraged Filipinos to get their booster shots as soon as they can with this new development. 

"Nand'yan na ang opportunity for you to get the booster at three months interval so kunin na po natin, 'wag na nating i-delay (You are given the opportunity to get the booster sooner, so don't delay)," she urged. 

Vergeire also clarified that those with immunocompromised conditions can also get their booster shots as early as 28 days after their second dose. 

"May studies na na ang immunocompromised should receive their third dose 28 days after their second dose (There are already studies that the immunocompromised can get their booster 28 days after their second dose)."

Those who received the Janssen vaccine can also receive their boosters 2 months after their single-primary dose. This is one month less than the initially recommended 3 months.

No sufficient data is available yet to determine if succeeding boosters will be recommended three months after the third dosage. 

Vergeire emphasized and echoed vaccine czar Carlito Galvez in saying that vaccine supply is no longer a problem, and that what remains to be addressed is its administration to more Filipinos. 

The health department is looking forward to more innovations in vaccine administration, but stressed that vaccines will always be important to protect against severe disease.

"There has been a lot of breakthroughs, meron silang pinag-aaralan na sine-spray na lang ang bakunsa sa ilong, meron tableta na shino-shorten ang progression at pine-prevent ang less severe na sakit. May posibilidad na in the coming months or years na mas higher protection. But definitely vaccines will always be important."

(There are studies being done for nasal spray vaccines, and tablets that can help prevent the progression of infection to severe disease. Higher protection can be expected in the next months and years, but definitely vaccines will always be important.)

The Philippines is stepping up vaccination amid the threat of the highly transmissible omicron variant. Cases in the country have seen a steady decline in recent weeks. 

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