COVID-19 booster shots can prevent breakthrough infection — experts
MANILA, Philippines — COVID-19 booster shots can prevent breakthrough infection, health experts said Wednesday.
However, Vaccine Experts Panel member and infectious disease specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante said the effectiveness of booster shots against breakthrough infection is “a bit lower” for the Omicron variant than for Delta.
Breakthrough infections are COVID-19 infections that happen at least two weeks after the full vaccination of an individual.
“Yes, in general, the booster dose can prevent breakthrough infections against COVID-19. But with the variant of concern, especially the Omicron variant, the protection of the booster dose against breakthrough infection is a bit lower compared to Delta,” he said in a text message.
Solante said this is the reason why the country experienced a number of breakthrough infections during the recent Omicron surge.
“That’s why the rate of breakthrough infections we experienced during Omicron surge [was like that]. But the rate of protection against severe COVID-19 remained high up to 90% even with Omicron variant,” he said.
“Timing of booster is also important with lower breakthrough infections if booster was given 3 months after the primary vaccine series compared to 6 months. That’s why we recommended to shorten the interval from 6 months to 3 months,” said Solante.
Solante urged the eligible population to get their booster shots.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gilbert Vilela, president of the Philippine Heart Association, said in an online media forum of the Department of Health (DOH) that COVID-19 vaccines are “effective at preventing infection, serious illness, and death” and that “most people who get COVID-19 are unvaccinated.”
But since vaccines are “not 100-percent effective” in preventing infection, some fully vaccinated individuals may still get the virus, said Vilela.
He also said that “most people need booster shots.”
“While COVID-19 vaccines are effective, studies have shown some declines in vaccine effectiveness against infections over time, especially when the Delta variant was circulating widely,” the health expert shared.
Vilela said breakthrough coronavirus infections can cause mild or moderate illness, but the chance for serious COVID-19 is very low, especially for people who do not have a chronic health condition.
In further stressing the need for booster shots, Vilela said that while any fully vaccinated person can experience a breakthrough infection, people with weakened immune systems caused by certain medical conditions or treatments are more likely to have breakthrough infections.
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