Ready for COVID-19 booster? Vaccine recipients now allowed to choose brand for third dose, says Galvez

Published October 25, 2021, 12:32 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The national government is now preparing to administer the third dose or booster shots of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to eligible priority groups and recipients will now be allowed to choose what brand they prefer.

(FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

This was confirmed by Sec. Carlito Carlito Gavez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, during the arrival of three million doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine on Sunday night, Oct. 24.

“They have the option on what vaccines they are getting. Considering this third dose, either they can choose heterologous or homologous [vaccination]. Iyon ang ibibigay natin (That’s what we will give them),” Galvez told reporters at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2.

Heterologous vaccination or “cross-mixing” refers to the administration of a different brand of vaccine from the first pair of doses. Meanwhile, homologous vaccination means that the same brand of vaccine will be given to the recipient.

The national government had initially opposed the administration of booster shots by Western countries as middle-income and poor nations have yet to even get hold of their first dose.

But the tune has since changed when the bulk of the government’s vaccine orders started arriving in the third quarter of the year and experts bared of the waning immunity provided by the vaccines amid the threat of emerging variants.

Galvez said recipients now have the freedom to choose what brand they prefer because the government has sufficient vaccines unlike when the national inoculation program was launched in March when there was still an inadequate supply.

The government has already received around 97 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines where 55 million doses were administered as of Oct. 24.

He said part of the recently delivered Sinovac vaccines will be used for the booster shots of the priority groups which will include the healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), and persons with comorbidities (A3). Other brands in the inventory include Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik V, and Sinopharm.

“We have seen that this is in preparation for the third dose vaccination that we will be doing. The DOH [Department of Health] has announced the [administration] of booster for healthcare workers and for those senior citizens and those with comorbids or immunocompromised,” Galvez said.

DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III reportedly approved the recommendation of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) last Oct. 21 to give booster shots or third dose to the priority groups which shall commence in the remaining three months of 2021.

While the exact date of the administration of third booster is yet to be confirmed, Galvez assured that it will not hamper the vaccination of other priorty groups such as the minors aged 12 to 17.

“The vaccine expert [panel] will be meeting on Tuesday and we are appealing that we need to expedite the vaccination of the children considering that we need them to open the different schools and classes. Also, the different private groups and companies [are] asking for the immediate vaccination of their children,” he said.

 
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