PH healthcare workers receive Covid-19 booster shots

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MANILA – The Philippine government began administering booster vaccinations to healthcare workers (HCWs) on Wednesday, with the goal of covering the country’s more than one million medical front-liners by the end of the year.

The ceremonial inoculation was led by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr., and other health officials at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), where approximately 250 HCWs are expected to receive boosters within the day.

Imelda Teves of NKTI’s radiology department was delighted after receiving the shot, saying she had been looking forward to it since her last dose in April 2021.

“There was no hesitancy at all, hindi ako natakot. Actually nag-volunteer agad kami, sa amin masaya kami kasi at least mapapanatag kami na may booster na kami (I was not scared at all. Actually, we volunteered as soon as it was announced, for us we are happy because we now have an added protection),” she said right after receiving the jab.

“Very helpful ito kasi kami mismo nakikita namin ang situwasyon ng mga pasyente na ayaw magpa-vaccine. So huwag mag-alala dahil napag-aralan naman ito (This is very helpful because we ourself see the situation of patients who do not want to get vaccinated. So for others, don’t worry because this underwent thorough study),” she added.

Teves received her first and second vaccine shots from Sinovac’s CoronaVac, and her booster from Pfizer-BioNTech.

She experienced no side effects during her primary doses and, as of this writing, none from her booster shot.

“Akala ko nga masakit pero hindi naman. Sa ngayon wala naman akong na-feel na side effect, katulad ng Sinovac noon wala naman akong naramdaman na kahit ano (At first I though it would hurt but it didn’t. At present I don’t feel any side effect, just like when I got Sinovac back then),” she said.

The administration of third shots for the A1 priority group (frontline health workers) was announced last Monday and officially began on November 17, with simultaneous booster vaccination in various areas.

Duque stated that this would be ongoing and concurrent with the increase in first and second-dose vaccination for children and the general population.

“This month of November we will try to cover the vast majority of our health care workers but we will (exert more effort) so that everyone will get it as soon as possible,” he said in a presser.

Duque stated that since the Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA), the public can be confident that the country’s booster dose policy is “safe and effective”.

According to the most recent DOH guidelines, HCWs who have completed their primary series can be inoculated with the following brands six months after receiving the second dose, regardless of which vaccines were used in the first two doses:

Primary vaccinationInterval for booster Homologous booster Heterologous booster
SinovacAt least 6 monthsSinovacAstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna
AstraZenecaAt least 6 monthsAstraZeneca*Pfizer, Moderna
PfizerAt least 6 monthsPfizerAstraZeneca, Moderna
ModernaAt least 6 monthsModernaAstraZeneca, Pfizer
Gamaleya SputnikAt least 6 monthsnot yet for implementation AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna
JanssenAt least 3 monthsnot yet for implementationAstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna

*allowed but with precaution based on EUA

The FDA’s initial advice, according to Duque, was to be “mindful” when mixing and matching booster doses, especially if the primary jabs are on a different platform than the third shot.

Nonetheless, he stated that this is still permissible because the goal remains the same: to increase the recipient’s level of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Several NKTI HCWs who received boosters on Wednesday had Sinovac as their primary vaccine and Pfizer as their booster.

“Puwede naman iyon, wala namang problema (That’s allowed, there’s no problem with that) because at the end of the day the objective is the same, it’s to bring up the level of antibody protection prior to the booster dose,” Duque said.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.