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It’s about time for an expanded coverage of second booster


It may be the news of expired (or expiring) vaccines or the President’s clear order during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) to boost the rollout of booster shots, the Department of Health (DOH) has finally issued new vaccination guidelines last July 26, 2022. Now, all adults 50 years old and above, and individuals 18 to 49 years old with comorbidities, can now receive a second booster shot (or a fourth dose) of the Covid vaccine.

This new coverage comes after the DOH guidelines last May, when it gave the go signal for senior citizens and frontline health workers to avail of a second booster shot, particularly mRNA vaccines such as those from Moderna and Pfizer. This was to strengthen their immunity against the virus, which has mutated into the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1.

The DOH pointed out that the rollout follows the expansion of the emergency use authorization issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which allows certain vaccine brands to be used as second booster doses in the expanded population groups. It also follows the recommendations given by the Health Technology Assessment Council, pointing to vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer as ideal second booster shots.

Eligible individuals may receive their second booster shot from health centers or barangay vaccination sites. The DOH, however, advises that the second booster can only be administered at least four months after the first booster (or the third dose) was given.

This new DOH directive coincides with the launch of a nationwide booster vaccination campaign called “PinasLakas,” which aims to increase the number of “boosted” Filipinos to help maintain the country’s immunity wall. This renewed push is needed at this time as only 15.9 million Filipinos have received a first booster shot as of July 26, way below the number of those who have received the first two vaccine shots. Lower still is the number of those who have received a second booster dose, which is just at 1.2 million individuals.

There is a long way to go to catch up and rebuild the crumbling immunity wall. Time, sadly, may not be on our side if the low booster coverage and acceptance continue. In fact, the DOH has a dire prognosis — a projected 19,306 Covid infections per day by Aug. 31. But with the improvement of vaccination and booster rates, and minimum public health standards compliance, “case increase may be slower and more controlled at about 6,194 to 8,346 cases by the end of August.”

This projection could just remain as an “imagination” if the nation supports this new booster campaign. Aside from vaccination, there is no other way to beat the virus but to continue wearing properly-fitting face masks, observing physical distancing, and washing of hands as frequently as possible. We should not waste all the gains we have made by being complacent in these last stages of the pandemic. When the President announced that “we will no longer implement a lockdown,” it also means that each one of us has a role to play to ensure that lockdowns wouldn’t happen again. If Covid cases spiral to high numbers once more, the President might be compelled to break his word. And that is the last thing our tattered economy needs.

Let us all help our country by trooping to the nearest health center to get boosted. It’s as simple as that.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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