Time for booster shots for senior citizens has finally arrived  

Published November 24, 2021, 12:02 AM

by Manila Bulletin

Just like medical frontliners, the Department of Health started last Monday administering booster shots to senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals.  The DOH also announced they can also choose to receive a booster shot of a vaccine brand different from the ones they had before.

This initiative was welcome news as studies have shown the effectiveness of a “third dose” in protecting vulnerable citizens and in preventing a surge of new cases as seen in some areas of Europe and the United States.  In fact, American authorities have observed a worrisome rising pattern of new COVID cases as they enter the travel-heavy Thanksgiving season.

Based on guidelines issued by the  DOH, medical experts have given their opinions on what vaccine mixes would work best. It is advisable therefore for senior citizens, especially those with comorbidities, to consult with their doctors if they would have a homologous or heterologous shot. To receive a homologous shot means having a booster of the same vaccine brand, while a heterologous shot means vaccination with a different brand of vaccine.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reported that more than 6,000 medical frontliners have received their booster shots, and more of them will have their jabs in the coming days. This was supported by vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., when he said that medical frontliners need to have their booster shots “ASAP.”  “We need to finish this as soon as possible because new COVID cases are rising once again in Europe. We want that by the time we see an increase here, our healthcare workers are already done with their booster shots,” he said.

Galvez is optimistic that more than one million medical frontliners would be able to get their booster shots before the year ends.

With this drive to bring “boosters” to the arms of more healthcare workers, and soon to the senior citizens, some sectors are worried, especially those in the provinces, that the country may experience a crunch in the vaccine supply. Galvez assuaged any fears and assured everyone that the “supply is enough to cover the three priority sectors for booster doses.”

This statement was supported by National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 medical adviser Dr. Teodoro Herbosa who said that the country has enough supply, with the most recent arrival of 600,000 plus doses of government-procured Pfizer vaccine.

“The total healthcare workers is about 1.9 million and we have a lot in our stockpile. We have over 50 million, so we can readily vaccinate them,” Herbosa said while noting the government’s target to vaccinate at least 50 percent of the country’s population and administer booster doses to all medical frontliners before 2021 ends.

With assurance from the government that we have enough stocks of vaccines, a national drive on Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, 2021 declared as “National Vaccination Days,” and with the private sector providing more “benefits” for fully vaccinated citizens, it seems that the country is pushing hard for herd immunity at the soonest time possible.

These developments are indeed wonderful news – at the start of the most wonderful time of the year – as we see to it that the country maintains its low positivity rate so that we could move ahead with a feeling of normalcy and help boost the survival of the economy.