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COVID-19 WATCH

DoH: No final decision yet on booster shots

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The Department of Health (DoH) on Monday opposed earlier statement of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque that the country’s vaccine experts already approved the recommendation to administer booster shots for healthcare workers.

“There is no final recommendation yet from the experts, nor approval from the DOH on the administration of booster shots,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Vergeire added that neither the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) nor All Expert Group (AEG) approved the administration of booster shots.

However, the Vaccine Experts Panel gave their recommendations but the AEG together with the department still need to “carefully” deliberate the administration of booster shots for medical frontliners.

Roque made the statements in his press briefing after he was asked if the government is now considering giving booster shots after five doctors who were inoculated with Sinovac are reportedly treated as severe cases.

“Well, this is moot and academic, because I heard that the NITAG, our vaccine experts, had already recommended the administration of booster shots for health workers,” he said.

Majority of the health workers in the country were inoculated with China-made vaccine Sinovac, which was reported to have waning immunity in individuals who were vaccinated with the vaccine.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously said that there is no evidence to support this claim as out of around seven million individuals who received Sinovac in the country, the breakthrough infections remain “very low.”

The regulatory body said, as of 20 August, only 180 individuals inoculated with Sinovac vaccines have breakthrough infections or tested positive after being fully vaccinated for more than 14 days.

Earlier this month, the DoH said it is now open to administering booster shots after vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government is already in negotiation with vaccine manufacturers that could supply booster shots.

Galvez also said that Sinovac BioNTech is willing to donate 500,000 doses of booster shots for healthcare workers

The DoH previously said that it is not yet the right time to administer booster shots due to global supply issues.

The World Health Organization called for an extension of the moratorium on administering booster shots to reduce the global vaccine inequality through the end of the year.

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