Healthcare workers at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City were among the first to get the booster shots provided by the national government as “early Christmas gifts” to them after its administration was officially launched on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, led the ceremonial booster vaccination of medical frontliners at the NKTI Gymnasium with Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) chairman and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Franscisco Duque III, and treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega.
Galvez said the booster shots were given as early Christmas gifts to the medical frontliners to enhance their immune response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the efficiency of the vaccine they took for the primary series of vaccination wanes over time.
"Ang regalo namin sa mga healthcare workers ay ang additional protection ng mga boosters (Our gift to the healthcare workers is additional protection offered by the boosters)," the vaccine czar said.
Around 300 healthcare workers were expected to be given with the booster shots although the NKTI received 1,170 doses of Pfizer vaccine for the rollout.
The first booster shot was administered by Duque to NKTI outpatient department head nurse Daisy Lopez using a Pfizer vaccine.
"Nakita natin na epektibo ang mga bakuna at talagang bumagsak ang kaso nang tayo ay nagkaroon ng vaccine sa buong bansa (We have seen that vaccines are safe and our caes really went doen since we had the vaccines nationwide)," Galvez said.
He cited the 849 new cases recorded on Tuesday which was the lowest tally in about 10 months.
The booster vaccination was supposed to start last Nov. 15 but the NTF Against COVID-19 had to wait for the guidelines from the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (WHO SAGE) and the amendment of the emergency use authorization (EUA) of the vaccines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The DOH recommended the use of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac shots as booster doses for a heterologous vaccination or “cross-mixing” of brands. This means that regardless what brand was given to a vaccine recipient, s/he can use any of the three brands for his or her booster dose.
More than two million doses were allocated by the national government for the booster vaccination of the healthcare workers and their immediate family members nationwide.
Meanwhile, five million doses were allotted for the booster vaccination of senior citizens and the immunocompromised individuals which is eyed to begin next week.
“We have already allocated enough supply for your sector,” Galvez said. “This is to ensure that all medical frontliners and healthcare workers throughout the country have their booster shots the soonest possible time.”
The administration of booster shots will also be carried out alongside the vaccine rollout for the general and younger population.
“With these measures, we are confident that we will be able to continue scaling up our country’s vaccine throughput, bring down our country’s cases and achieve population protection within the year,” Galvez noted.