DOH backs COVID booster shot for health workers, but cites need for equity
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III supports providing COVID-19 booster shots for healthcare workers but cited the need to vaccinate a larger percentage of the country’s population first.
“I am pushing for it. It’s just that our All Experts Group, they are all saying that we have to ensure that a bigger percentage of the population must receive the primary series of the vaccines,” Duque told ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart on Thursday.
“Marami pa na hindi nakakatanggap ng kahit isa[ng dose]. So kung magbibigay ng booster doses sa mga healthcare workers, which I support, this will rechannel [the vaccines] para madisenfranchise, mawalan ng equity,” he explained.
(Many have yet to receive even just one dose. So if we will provide booster doses for healthcare workers, which I support, this will rechannel the vaccines and there will be disenfranchisement on the supply. There will be no equity.)
Duque also noted that areas outside Metro Manila still have low vaccination coverage. He added that senior citizens and persons with comorbidity who have yet to be vaccinated should be inoculated first before providing booster shots since they are more vulnerable to the severe form of COVID-19.
Before Duque’s statement, the Department of Health and its advisers earlier decided not to authorize COVID-19 booster shots for healthcare workers for now.
“To date, evidence is insufficient and inconclusive to support the administration of booster doses,” the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) said in a statement during the DOH’s online consultative meetings with healthcare workers in September.
The HTAC said it would “continuously consider changes in evidence in their review and recommendations.”
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