Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion has urged the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) to apply the guidelines adopted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the country’s administration of second booster shots.
Concepcion made the appeal on Monday, so the country can address the problems of millions of Covid-19 vaccines nearing their expiration date as well as to speed up booster uptake and prevent possible surges of new variant infections.
“We should pattern the second booster shots after the CDC guidelines so we can have a better chance of protecting the vulnerable against Covid. I think the HTAC should change the manner by which they evaluate because we are in an emergency,” he said following his discussion with medical experts.
HTAC is an independent advisory body providing guidance to the Department of Health and PhilHealth on the coverage of health interventions and technologies to be funded by the government.
Currently, HTAC only limits second booster shots to the immunocompromised, despite not having any basis on its regulation.
HTAC’s criterion is different from that of the CDC, which are: persons who received their boosters four months prior who are either 50 years or older, or those 12 years or older and moderately or severely immunocompromised. The CDC also has provisions for those who received two doses of the J&J/Janssen vaccine who are 18 years or older.
Ted Herbosa, member of the Vaccine Expert Panel, said HTAC “must understand that we have the supply and if they delay the approval, they can’t expect the NVOC (National Vaccination Operations Center) to deliver in a few weeks.”
“It was only when we started to approve everybody that the growth became exponential,” he added. Currently, there are around 90 million available doses of the Covid-19 vaccines in the country.
Health experts believe that the most cost-effective and efficient way of using the vaccines will be to give them to willing recipients.
Based on a survey conducted by OCTA Research, 92 percent of the respondents said they are willing to get vaccinated, and 70 percent are willing to get their booster shots. Concepcion said that the country cannot afford to slacken its economic recovery as it must remain healthy to repay its debt and prevent the stagflation that could come with higher commodity prices.