By Teddy Cambosa
Following the Secretary of Health’s signing on approving booster doses, the Department of Health in the Philippines has said that these approvals are only interim recommendations to guide sectoral planning on providing booster shots to the local population.
They have also stated that the signed recommendations are pending assessment from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the amendment of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), and the release of the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (WHO SAGE) recommendation expected this November.
The signed recommendations follow after Health Technology Assessment Council’s (HTAC) recent reports recommending booster shots.
Furthermore, DOH says that the formal recommendation on boosters will have to be adapted into a policy with operational plans by the Department. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire also clarified that planning is underway for booster doses.
“The primary series of vaccines far outweigh the incremental benefit of boosters. We have to prioritize giving the primary series of these COVID-19 vaccines to the unvaccinated so they, too, can receive the additional protection that vaccines provide against hospitalizations and deaths,” said Undersecretary Vergeire.
She added, “We got this [recommendations] from the HTAC website, which we post regularly online for transparency. All of the plans are underway, and just like what we’ve stated before, we will have these third doses for the immunocompromised, senior citizens and our boosters for our healthcare workers.”
Vergeire said all of this during the latest DOH Beat COVID-19 Media Forum last October 25.
The department has also said that it will depend on FDA’s final assessment of the evidence submitted by the DOH All Experts Group (AEG) regarding ‘mix-and-match’ of vaccine brands for boosters.
Teddy Cambosa is a graduating BS Biology student and a former campus journalist at Batangas State University