Some 690,000 adults with health risks are eligible to get a second COVID-19 booster shot, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the agency was expected to immunize up to 13,000 people with comorbidities—the priority sector for this booster campaign—beginning on Monday.
Second booster shots will be administered at least three months after the first one, according to the health department.
The National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) on Saturday said it is expecting at least 7,000 immunocompromised individuals to take their second COVID-19 booster doses during the first day of its rollout.
“During the first day, we are seeing around 7,000 to 13,000 immunocompromised persons who will take their second booster. We will roll it out throughout the whole country,” said Cabotaje, also NVOC chair, at the Laging Handa briefing.
The rollout of the second COVID-19 booster for immunocompromised persons is set to begin on April 25 nationwide, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire announced on Friday.
Cabotaje said earlier in the day on Dobol B TV that the country’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be enough for the second booster shots of the immunocompromised.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Saturday said the government is assuring that the vaccines to be used for the second booster doses are safe.
“We are assuring that the vaccines are safe before these will be used for the second booster dose against COVID-19 since these are still under emergency use authorization,” Duque said in Filipino in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.
Meanwhile, the country is averaging at around 200,000 persons a day in vaccination.
“If we maintain about 250,000 a day until the end of April, we will look at about 1.5 to 2-M [individuals]. Our current 67.4 million fully vaccinated individuals will reach around 69 million,” Cabotaje said.
The Philippines on Thursday registered a marked decrease in the number of daily coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tally in almost two years since the declaration of a pandemic with 134 new infections.
“We know there is no certainty whether the cases will rise or not. We have assumptions, those included in our considerations are the minimum public health standards and our vaccine coverage,” she said.
While there is no common factor on the increase of COVID cases in the mentioned areas, Cabotaje said this might be due to influx of tourists, as well as campaign sorties ahead of the May 9 general elections.
In a separate statement, the DOH defined immunocompromised individuals as having the following: Immunodeficiency state, HIV, active cancer or malignancy, transplant recipients, undergoing steroid treatment, patients with poor prognosis or bed-ridden patients, and other conditions of immunodeficiency as certified by a physician.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the following vaccine brands for the second booster dose, DOH said: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.
Based on government data, the country has fully vaccinated some 67.1 million individuals, while about 12.7 million have received booster shots.
The DOH is currently monitoring the following areas, although a slight increase in COVID-19 cases is not significant: Marinduque, Davao City, Butuan City, Surigao del Sur, Ilocos Norte, Kalinga, Batanes, Quirino, Catanduanes, Olongapo City, Tarlac City, Angeles City, and Eastern Samar.
“We don’t see the common denominator affecting the increase of cases in these areas but there might be some influx of people during
holidays and because of campaign sorties, these are what we are looking at, but we also monitor all areas in the country,” Cabotaje said.
She noted all areas nationwide are being monitored due to mass gatherings during the Holy Week and with the series of election-related activities across the country.
The government has intensified its vaccination campaign, especially the administration of booster doses to eligible individuals following the warning of the World Health Organization on a possible COVID-19 surge after the May 9 elections.
On Monday, the administration of second booster shots for the immunocompromised will start.
Overall, about 67 million Filipinos have the complete primary series of Covid-19 jabs but only 12.97 million have availed of booster shots.