The administration of booster shots of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to healthcare workers, senior citizens, and individuals with comorbidities will likely begin next month.
This was the estimate given by Sec. Carlito Galvez JR., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, during a public address of President Duterte on Monday night, Oct. 26.
Galvez said healthcare workers, or those under the A1 priority group, will be the first to receive the shots after the government’s Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) and All Expert Group issued a “positive opinion” on whether or not it is the right time to give boosters.
The recommendation was approved by Department of Health (DOH) Sec. Francisco Duque III last week.
“Nagpalabas po ng kanilang positive opinion ang HTAC at ang ating All Expert Group para kapag nag-start na po tayo ng boosters sa ating mga healthcare workers (The HTAC and All Expert group issued positive opinion on the start of the [administration] of boosters for our healthcare workers),” he said.
“Nakikita po namin na (We are seeing that) most likely we will start by November and also we will consider those vaccinated during the month of March,” he added.
However, the vaccine czar said that the emergency use authorization (EUA) given to the vaccine brands shall be amended since the doses will now be used for booster shots.
He said the DOH has already started the process to amend the EUA of the different vaccine brands that will be used for the booster shots of the priority groups.
The DOH said individuals who were injected with AstraZeneca, Sinovac-CoronaVac, and Moderna were advised to use Pfizer as their booster shot under a heterologous vaccination. Heterologous vaccination or “cross-mixing” means that a different brand of vaccine is given to the recipient.
Those who were given Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac-CoronaVac, and Moderna can also use the same brand that they had during the first two dosing under a homologous vaccination. Homologous vaccination refers to the administration of the similar brand of vaccine to the recipient.
Galvez said around two million doses will be alloted to cover the boosters of healthcare workers while five million doses will be allocated to the senior citizens and immunocompromised.
“We have enough doses for them. Irregardless of brand, mayroon po tayo na nakatabi (we have standby [supply]),” the vaccine czar said.