DOH to follow WHO’s recommendation of providing 3rd COVID-19 vaccine dose for immunocompromised, seniors

A medical worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, California, the United States, June 18, 2021. (Xinhua/ FILE/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The Department of Health (DOH) said that it will follow the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised individuals and senior citizens who received Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that they are already planning about the administration of the third dose for these groups.

“The All Experts panel agrees doon sa mga sinabi ng WHO (with what the WHO stated). Ilalagay lang natin sa proseso (We’ll just put in the process), but everything is underway and the government is already planning for this,” she said.

Vergeire said that a nod from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also needed.

“Of course, we will need an EUA (emergency use authorization) from the Food and Drug Administration before we can start implementing ito pong mga rekomendasyon na ito (these recommendations),” she said.

Vergeire also noted that a third dose is different from a booster shot.

She explained that a third dose is for people who “cannot mount appropriate immunity” against the disease. A booster shot, meanwhile, is being given because of waning immunity “several months” after vaccination.

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) of WHO recommended that moderately and severely immunocompromised persons should be offered an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine "as part of an extended primary series since these individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease."

Meanwhile, it said that individuals aged 60 and above who received Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines "should be offered" an additional or third dose "as part of an extended primary series."