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Gov’t to check if seniors fit for AstraZeneca shots



The advisory group for immunization would determine whether healthcare workers aged 60 above are fit to receive the Covid-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca, Malacañang announced Thursday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government’s pandemic task force is awaiting the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) on the eligible recipients of AstraZeneca shots — the first batch of which are scheduled to arrive at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City Thursday night.

“Sa pagdating ng batch ng AstraZeneca mamayang gabi, ito ay dadaan sa NITAG,” he said in a televised briefing.

“We will wait for the advice of the NITAG kung gagamitin ba ang Astrazeneca vaccine sa senior citizens na health care workers na hindi na-inoculate ng Sinovac,” Nograles added.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to attend the arrival ceremony of at least 487,200 AstraZeneca vaccines, which are sourced from the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility.

The interim results of the AstraZeneca vaccine study showed that only 660 participants were aged over 65, and there were only two Covid-19 cases in the age group.

The authors of the study said that there was not enough evidence to conclude that AstraZeneca’s vaccine was effective for the elderly.

European countries have different recommendations on whether the AstraZeneca vaccine should be given to senior citizens.

In the United Kingdom, the vaccine was approved for use in adults aged 18 and above.

France, Germany, Sweden, and Austria, on the other hand, deemed the vaccine should be prioritized for those under the age of 65.

Poland recommended the vaccine for those younger than 60, while Italy approved it for those 55 and younger.

The Philippines began its immunization program against Covid-19 on Monday using vaccines manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd., with health workers, military personnel, and top pandemic response officials aged 18 to 59 getting the first of the coveted shots.

The Food and Drug Administration did not recommend the China-made vaccine for individuals aged 60 and above.