philippines vaccine covid
Health workers encode information and prepare vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a mobile vaccination site in Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines, in this file photo taken on May 21, 2021. Image Credit: Reuters

Manila: Filipinos who completed their COVID-19 vaccines six months ago may now get their booster shots from this month (December 2021), a senior official said.

Vince Dizon, Manila’s "testing czar” and presidential adviser for COVID-19 response, said the Department of Health (DOH) is now finalising guidelines on booster shot distribution from this month.

“If it has been at least six months since your second dose, you can avail of the boosters regardless of what category you are in,” said Dizon in Filipino language.

The Philippine earlier struggled with inoculations against the coronavirus. With vaccine supplies no longer an issue, the Duterte government has ramped up its COVID-19 inoculation drive.

Economic frontliners (Category A4) and indigent Filipinos (A5) may get their booster dose as early as December 10, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. told local media earlier.

142m

Number of doses that have arrived in the country as of December 1, 2021.

Currently, only healthcare workers, senior citizens, and people with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised) — classified as priority groups A1 to A3 — can get boosters.

The decision to offer booster shots to the general population takes the coronavirus vaccination campaign to a new level in the Asian country, which has been lagging behind its neighbours

Mass vaccination: 5 million doses in 2 days

During the first two days of the national vaccination drive (November 29 to 30), over 5 million COVID-19 shots were administered in over 8,000 centres across the country.

Today, December 1, 2021, is the last of the three-day campaign — which aims to increase vaccine coverage, and prioritise the regions with low immunisation rates.

On November 29, the drive’s first day, 2.7 million Filipinos were inoculated; 2.3 million individuals were vaccinated on November 30, according to tally board.

While the number fell short of the target of 3-million daily doses — there were challenges faced by teams assigned to remote island provinces, in addition to information dissemination glitches as well as vaccine hesitancy.

Vaccination of workforce

Employers are also encouraged to ensure they have a fully-vaccinated workforce in order to guarantee a safe environment for their people.

Philippines vaccination
The Philippines’ FDA Director-General Eric Domingo on Wednesday confirmed the new policy of allowing all adults 18-years-old and above to get booster shots.

The additional jabs are the same brand combinations recommended for healthcare workers, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals, said Domingo.

Homologous vaccination
The FDA earlier said that Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac could be used as homologous vaccines — or using the same type of vaccine for the third shot.

The booster jabs are the same brand combinations recommended for healthcare workers, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals, said Domingo.

Vaccine mandate

On Wednesday, a new rule mandating vaccines in workplaces kicked in, which means millions of Filipinos will have to to pay for their own COVID-19 tests. As of December 1, businesses will require employees entering offices to factories to be inoculated against the virus.

The Southeast Asian nation has one of the lowest vaccination rates among major economies, with only 32% of the population fully inoculated. The country has so far administered 81 million doses, according to Our World in Data.