Infectious disease expert welcomes DOH's approval of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

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Infectious disease expert welcomes DOH’s approval of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots
© Danny Pata Residents stream into a vaccination center in Manila’s Paco district on Sunday, August 8, 2021, where 2,500 are set to get their first vaccine dose against COVID-19. On the 3rd day of the 2-week enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region, the Manila city government will launch its 24/7 vaccination center. DANNY PATA

Infectious disease expert Rontgene Solante on Wednesday welcomed the decision of the Department of Health (DOH) to administer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots beginning with healthcare workers and older people.

“Malaking bagay ito especially for the healthcare workers (This is a big deal for the healthcare workers),” said Solante, a vaccine expert panel member, at the Laging Handa briefing.

“This is something na we look forward sa mga healthcare workers na kung mabigay na itong booster sa mga healthcare workers, tataas ulit ang kumpiyansa natin if in case mayroong surge at iyong kumpiyansa natin sa paghawak ng mga pasyenteng may COVID-19,” he added.

(This is something that we look forward to for the healthcare workers. Once the booster doses are given, our confidence will increase again in case there is a surge in cases and when handling patients with COVID-19.)

Solante said that breakthrough infections were observed in fully vaccinated healthcare workers during the surge in August and September.

“There should be an allocation for the boosters, maski unahin lang nila ang (the government should at least prioritize) healthcare workers at this point in time,” he said, adding that healthcare workers in COVID referral centers particularly needed booster shots because they are at higher risk of exposure to the virus.

The booster shots and additional jabs were approved by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III last week.

Under the recommendation of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), boosters are set to be given to healthcare workers and senior citizens within the fourth quarter, provided that they receive the jabs at least six months after the primary series.

The HTAC also pushed for the implementation of boosters in 2022, following the same prioritization among eligible groups only if the A1 to A5 priority groups reach 50% in the primary series and at least 70% of the total target population in the hotspot regions (Manila, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon).

In a dzBB interview on Wednesday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the third and booster doses for healthcare workers and immunocompromised individuals could be administered starting on November 15.

Galvez said they are waiting for guidance from regulatory boards such as the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. — VBL, GMA News

This article Infectious disease expert welcomes DOH’s approval of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots was originally published in GMA News Online.

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