Use of COVID-19 booster shots 'subject to availability of vaccines’ – DOST expert panel

Published August 16, 2021, 6:46 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The use of coronavirus disease (COVID) vaccine booster shots for fully vaccinated individuals, particularly those immunocompromised would hinge on the vaccine supply in the country, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) said Monday, Aug. 16.

(Photo by Ali Vicoy)

VEP chairperson Dr. Nina Gloriani said the experts’ groups are in the process of identifying those who will receive the third dose of COVID-jab or the booster shot.

“Nasa discussion natin yan sa all experts’ group kung sino ang bibigyan, how do we define sino ang immunocompromised, of course number 1, ang mga elderly (It is in our discussion in all experts’ group who will be given booster shots, how do we define who is immunocompromised, of course number 1, the elderly),” she said in a virtual public briefing on Monday.

She noted that among those who may be considered as immunocompromised are transplant patients, those taking immunosuppressive antimetabolite drugs, HIV patients, and cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy.

Gloriani said the country’s vaccine supply will be seriously considered before they recommend the use of booster shots.

“Actually mayroon naman pong napag-usapan na talagang ibibigay pero subject to availability nitong mga bakuna na ito, kasi uunahin pa rin po natin na makabuo ng population protection o nung herd immunity that we need. (Actually, there was an agreement that these booster shots should be given, but they are subject to the availability of these vaccines, because we will still prioritize building population protection or the herd immunity that we need),” she said.

“Kasi hindi po mangyayari yung kailangan protection, kung kokonti ang ating nababakunahan (We will not have the necessary protection if we only vaccinate few people) which is only about 12 percent or less than 15 percent. Kailangan po natin sana (We need) 50 percent although we aim for higher 70 to 80 percent,” she added.

Over 12 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 14 million others got their first dose.

The Philippines is targeting to vaccinate around 77 million Filipinos, or 70 percent of 111 million total population, by the end of 2021 to attain herd immunity.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), herd immunity is a form of indirect protection when a sufficient percentage of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease.