Bivalent vaccines that target newer variants of concern may not be available in the Philippines until the first quarter of 2023, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.
The DOH statement comes after an official of vaccine manufacturer Moderna said in a television interview that their bivalent vaccines will be available for the Philippines in November.
“So tayo naman, the earliest time possible that we can be able to procure, that is our goal. But we have to understand that we go through different processes for regulating these products,” said DOH Officer-In-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire in a press conference in Cabanatuan City.
Vergeire stressed the importance of making sure that the new COVID-19 vaccines will be safe for the public.
“November, I think might not be feasible for us. That’s why we are targeting the first quarter of 2023 when all of these mechanisms or clearances are already there, nakuha na natin,” she said.
The DOH said there is still no recommendation for 5 to 11-year-olds to receive a COVID-19 booster, citing lack of evidence that supports the move.
There is also no application currently lodged by vaccine manufacturers.
“So we still advise ang ating mga nanay at tatay na ang mga bata po, wala silang booster. Pangalawa, yung kanilang coverage for 5 to 11 years old is still below 50 percent. So mas vulnerable at itinuturing po nating vulnerable ang ating mga kabataan. Kaya sana po, yung ating mga magulang, they would have that voluntary decision para mag-mask po
ang ating mga kabataan pagpasok sa eskwelahan,” Vergeire said.
As of Nov. 1, more than 73.5 million people in the country have been fully-vaccinated against COVID-19 with nearly 20.6 million given one booster.