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The Department of Health (DOH) is awaiting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) official recommendation to give additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to immunocompromised persons, senior citizens, and health care workers.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in a Laging Handa briefing on Saturday, said the WHO is expected to release its final recommendation by November.

She also clarified that booster shots and additional doses are different and the WHO has yet to recommend a third shot for the general population.

According to experts, a booster shot is an additional dose after the protection of the original shot(s) has decreased over time. while a third shot is for those with certain health conditions to help further protect them from severe Covid-19 case or death.

Following a four-day meeting, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization on October 11 said those with weakened immunity should receive an additional shot.

SAGE said they are “less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease”.

People aged 60 and older who received the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines should also get a third dose, experts said, “though the use of other vaccines may also be considered depending on supply and access”.

Vergeire reiterated that no specific brand was singled out as the recommended jab.

Manila’s Health Technology Assessment Council is likewise studying all available vaccines in the country that may be given as a third dose for the immunocompromised and the elderly.

“Ito ang ating mga plano underway na, pinag-uusapan na ito kung pa-paano natin mapatutupad (This is included in the agency’s plans and we are now discussing how to implement it),” Vergeire said. “Let me reiterate, lahat po ng ating mga bakuna (all of our vaccines) continue to protect against severe disease and death and that is based on evidence.” (PNA)

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