COVID-19 survivors can now immediately receive vaccine after recovery

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 15) — The Department of Health is now allowing survivors to be immediately vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19.

“Section III E.5 of Department Circular No. 2021-0157 is amended for simplification that all vaccine recipients who contracted COVID-19 may be vaccinated after recovery or completion of treatment, whether for first or second dose, without restarting the vaccine dose schedule,” the DOH said in a revised memorandum dated April 8.

The previous policy stated that they must wait at least 14 days after recovery before they can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. But the DOH earlier noted current evidence shows the shot can now be given right away after the individual gets better.

Originally, people with a history of COVID-19 were asked to wait for 90 days in light of the limited vaccine supply since that is how long a COVID-19 survivor may evade reinfection due to the natural antibodies they developed after the initial infection.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Dr. Rontgene Solante of the country's vaccine experts panel said the sooner the fully recovered patient is inoculated, the better.

“Remember, when you recover from this infection, you may have the natural antibody coming from that recovery, but that antibody may not last long, so they can still have a reinfection,” he said. “That’s the reason why we don't need to wait for that 90 days if there’s an opportunity."

This is especially true, he said, for those at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus, such as healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities, who lead the list of priority groups for vaccination.

The government aims to vaccinate up to 70 million Filipinos this year.

Data from the DOH showed that as of April 13, the country has already vaccinated over 1.2 million, mostly healthcare workers since the local inoculation drive started more than a month ago. Of the number, 162,065 Filipinos have received their second dose.