Vaccine experts mull booster shots for ‘special population’
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) is mulling to recommend giving COVID-19 booster shots to a “special population” or those whose antibody response to vaccines is low due to certain medical conditions.
VEP head Dr. Nina Gloriani said the panel has been meeting “lengthily” about booster shots, following reports that some vaccines have lesser effects against the Delta and other variants of COVID-19.
“We were in a meeting yesterday and in the past lengthily all about booster shots. Yes we are looking at that possibility especially with these reports of waning immunity but we are looking more at a special population,” she told an online media forum when asked if the panel is considering the administration of booster shots.
According to Gloriani, studies abroad have shown that available vaccines in the country have reduced efficacy against the Delta variant but continue to provide protection against the severe form of the disease.
However, VEP member Dr. Rontgene Solante said that the panel is looking at providing booster shots only to people whose antibody response to two doses of COVID-19 vaccine is low.
“Ito ang tinitingnan namin na kung meron mang kailangan ng booster, doon natin ibibigay sa special population na medyo mababa ang antibody response nila sa mga bakuna,” he said.
(If ever we will need booster shots, we are looking at providing it to a special population who have low antibody response to vaccines.)
Solante said these are people with human immunodeficiency virus, cancer, the elderly, and those taking Immunosuppressive drugs after receiving organ transplants especially for chronic kidney diseases.
“These are the possible populations that the VEP will hopefully recommend kung kailangan nating i-booster (if ever we will need booster shots), over the general population,” Solante said.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said it is open to administering COVID-19 booster shots to people with compromised immune systems as long as there is evidence for its safety and efficacy.
However, it maintained that experts do not recommend administering booster shots at present due to lack of sufficient evidence for its safety and because of limited vaccine supply.
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