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Fully vaccinated healthcare workers may get COVID-19 booster shots starting Nov. 17—DOH

By Brooke Villanueva Published Nov 16, 2021 11:45 am

Medical workers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may get their booster shots starting Wednesday, Nov. 17. 

The Department of Health recommended the use of Moderna, Pfizer, and Sinovac as booster doses “regardless of the brand used for the primary series,” based on the Emergency Use Authorization issued by the Food and Drug Administration. 

“Sinovac will also be offered as a booster for those that had Sinovac as primary series,” the health agency added. 

Dr. Edsel Salvana—a member of the DOH’s Technical Advisory Group—posted a list of clarifications on Facebook in line with the DOH announcement. He said that there may be changes in the announcement as the National Vaccine Operations Center is set to release its official guidelines for the administration of third coronavirus shots within the day.

In a Facebook post, Salvana said that:

  1. This is ONLY for healthcare workers.
  2. This is VOLUNTARY.
  3. Whatever primary series you got, you are eligible for only ONE SHOT of ONE of these three vaccines only: Sinovac, Pfizer, Moderna
  4. Only those who are at least 6 MONTHS from their 2nd dose are eligible. This may change depending on the final release since some studies have given boosters as early as 3 months.
  5. From a pure safety standpoint, homologous boosters are more predictable. In other words, if you got Sinovac, Pfizer or Moderna, you should go for a 3rd dose of the same vaccine. There is data that mixing (heterologous vaccination) is more likely to cause reactions.
  6. If you are a frontline worker who takes care of COVID-19 patients and you got Sinovac, there is MARGINAL preliminary data that a single shot of Pfizer booster has an added 10% clinical protection compared to a third dose of Sinovac. However, the protection against SEVERE disease is the SAME. The efficacy data is only for 14 days from the booster dose so these may change.
  7. For non-frontline healthcare workers, the decision point is whether you think the marginal added clinical benefit (but equal protection from severe disease) is worth the added risk of severe reactions.

“These (recommendations) are subject to change as the science trickles in, and are by no means final. If you have a hard time deciding, it might be safer to wait for more data. Stay safe,” he concluded. 

The country started its inoculation program in March. In a Nov. 15 press briefing, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said around 31.57 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Around 38.14 million, meanwhile, are still waiting for their second shots.