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WHO now supports third COVID-19 jab for immunocompromised people and senior citizens

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Oct 14, 2021 4:09 pm

The World Health Organization (WHO) now recommends giving a third COVID-19 vaccine shot for immunocompromised people and senior citizens due to their higher risk of having a breakthrough infection. 

“We are now in a position to say that for people with immunocompromised conditions, who have been unable to develop full immunity, the WHO is now supporting a third dose,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, said in today’s televised Malacanang briefing. 

Abeyasinghe clarified that the WHO’s recommendation for a third shot is different from having a booster shot for the general population.

“This is specifically for those who are at risk because of the immunocompromised conditions and are unable to develop and sustain the required level of protection from the primary two doses or one dose,” he added. 

Abeyasinghe also said the WHO recommends senior citizens who received the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccine to likewise receive another shot as well three months after receiving the second dose. 

Joachim Hombach, secretary general of WHO’s independent panel of experts, was quoted in an Oct. 11 Reuters report as saying that data on Sinovac and Sinopharm shots "clearly showed that in older age groups ... the vaccine performs less well after two doses.” 

The WHO has balked at administering booster shots to the general population, advising countries instead to allocate vaccines to priority groups first and for wealthier countries to help free up supply to poorer countries that have yet to receive sufficient allocation.  

The government has now given the green light for the vaccination this month of the general population, after previously prioritizing health care workers, senior citizens, and people, including minors, with comorbidities. 

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said during the briefing when asked about mandatory vaccination that it may be up to Congress to pass such a law, but noted that it may not be necessary at this point due to the high public interest in getting the vaccine.  (Bim Santos)