Aim to get that second dose, according to experts.
Over one million Filipinos missed their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to epidemiology and data analytics expert Dr. John Wong of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in a recent Department of Health (DOH) town hall session.
Wong said that of the 2.1 million individuals who have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines, only about one million have returned for their second jab.
“So maybe half of the people who have taken their first dose are missing out on their second dose, so we have to follow up on these people,” said Wong, who also noted that they have yet to determine why these individuals were not able to get their second shot.
“First dose is really not enough,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergiere said in the same town hall. “Sinasabi na po ito ng ating mga eksperto that you need to get your second dose because it provides you with the maximum potential of the vaccine.”
If you missed your scheduled second dose jab, the DOH says one should try to get the second dose during the “four-day grace period when assessing on-time receipt” that is allowed by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or as soon after as possible.
But if one misses the grace period, one does not need to go back to square one and start over the vaccine regimen. But you still need to get the second dose of the vaccine.
What are the interval of doses per vaccine? It varies, according to DOH. The following vaccines that the country currently uses have the following dosage and frequency:
- Pfizer — 2 doses, 21 days apart
- AstraZeneca — 2 doses, 4 to 12 weeks apart
- Sinovac — 2 doses, 4 weeks apart
- Sputnik V — 2 doses, 3 weeks apart
“Yung mga intervals natin for vaccines, mayroon naman po siyang allowance. Kung lumampas siya sa minimum interval, ok lang naman,” said Dr. Anna Lisa Lim-Ong, member of the DOH and IATF technical advisory group, during PhilSTAR Life’s Vax to the Future virtual talk in April.
Even with the allowance in vaccine intervals, experts maintain that those who have been scheduled for their second dose should show up and not let their opportunity to be fully vaccinated go to waste.
But why is it important to complete the two doses of the same COVID-19 vaccine (if the vaccine brand administered to them requires it)?
The DOH says the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines “did not protect as many people as were protected after the second dose.” So if one gets exposed to SARS-CoV-2 during the delay of the second dose of the vaccine, one may not have enough immunity to prevent one from experiencing symptoms.
During the Vax to the Future virtual talk, Prof. Nina Gloriani, head of the Department of Science and Technology vaccine development expert panel, explained that the body takes a few weeks to build antibodies after vaccination.
Upon receiving the first dose of the vaccine, that’s when the body starts to initiate an immune response but, Gloriani said, at that point it is not yet safe to say that it is completely protective.
A few weeks after getting the second dose, that’s when the body gets enough protection but still, one has to wait a couple of months for the full protection to set in, said Gloriani.
According to Our World in Data, the Philippines has administered over five million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and about 1.2 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated.
At present, the country is inoculating its priority groups, composed of frontline healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), persons with comorbidities (A3). The country starts vaccinating frontline personnel in essential sectors (A4) this month.
Banner and thumbnail photo by Michael Varcas/The Philippine STAR