PH eyes third COVID-19 shot for health workers, vulnerable sectors by November

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 20) — The Philippine government plans to administer an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose for healthcare workers and those who are immunocompromised starting next month pending a formal recommendation from the World Health Organization.

"Ito po pinagpre-prepare na po namin ni Sec. Duque dahil nagbigay na po ng inclination ang WHO na 'yung ating vaccination for the third dosing, considering that magla-lapse na po 'yung tinatawag nating 'yung immunity," vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said during his televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tusesday.

[Translation: Secretary Duque and I are preparing because the WHO issued an inclination (to recommend) the third dose since the immunity is about to go down.]

He said on Wednesday that the government is ready to administer third doses to the vulnerable sectors who were vaccinated against COVID-19 from March to May.

The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (WHO SAGE) earlier advised that an additional dose of all WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. It also said a third dose of Sinovac and Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to persons aged 60 and above and those whose immune systems are diminished.

The Department of Health said the Food and Drug Administration must first approve an amended emergency use authorization before a vaccine brand can be given as a third dose.

A third dose is different from a booster shot, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. Boosters are given to those whose COVID-19 immunity has waned over time after vaccination while a third dose is for those who did not generate a strong immune response following COVID-19 immunization, she said.