Calls to use expiring vaccines for 2nd booster shots ring louder | Inquirer News

Calls to use expiring vaccines for 2nd booster shots ring louder

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 05:00 PM July 21, 2022
Calls to use expiring vaccines for 2nd booster shots ring louder

A Marikina resident takes a selfie while getting a booster shot. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA/FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—As the Philippines is in an “economic storm,” businessman Joey Concepcion, the former presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, said last month that “we need to protect people who are now keeping our economy afloat.”

This was the reason that he asked the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), which advises the Department of Health (DOH), to approve a second booster shot for private sector employees.


HTAC gives advice to the DOH on which health interventions to spend on.

“I don’t see any reason the HTAC should not approve boosters for 50-year-olds when the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), which is a well-respected body, has already approved it,” Concepcion said, referring to the main US health agency.


The DOH, on May 18, approved the HTAC recommendation for the administration of second booster shots to health care workers (A1) and the elderly (A2)—individuals aged 60 years and older.

RELATED STORY: Second COVID-19 booster shot rollout underway

He said “we are not generalizing that all workers below 60 should get second booster [shots],” stressing that it should only be available to those who need added protection, which, for the private sector, are employees who are 50 years or older.

However, a month has passed and there is still no word from the HTAC: “We requested they bring down the age to 50 years [old] for the second booster shot […] hopefully it gets approved already.”

READ: Concepcion: Approve 2nd booster shot for employees

This, as he stressed that 1,516,040 million COVID-19 vaccine doses bought by the private sector are set to expire by the end of the month: “If you look at these expiring vaccines, that’s a lot of money.”

“Yes, we have to focus on the first boosters, but the private sector bought these vaccines. This is my frustration,” said Concepcion, founder of Go Negosyo, at a news forum on Tuesday (July 19).


The vaccines were acquired by the private sector through the tripartite agreement “A Dose of Hope,” where half the vaccines acquired is shared with the government.

Each AstraZeneca shot is estimated to cost $5, while each Moderna shot was bought for $27, Concepcion said while breaking down the total expiring vaccines in warehouses—AstraZeneca (628,680) and Moderna (887,360).



“The vaccines should be used rather than left to expire. Many productive members of the workforce fall outside of the age limit set by the HTAC. Yet they also have risk factors and are exposed to the virus every day when they come to work,” he said.

Concepcion stressed: “The private sector has already proven that it is willing to get vaccinated. There is no need for mandates when it comes to the private sector. They don’t want to get sick and use up their sick leaves.”


With a goal to give out booster shots to 50 percent of the eligible population in the first 100 days of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the DOH said it would launch the “PinasLakas” campaign next week (July 26).

READ: DOH aims for 23M booster shots in Bongbong Marcos’ first 100 days

This, as only 15,098,295 individuals have been administered with booster shots when there are 55,597,203 individuals already eligible to receive a booster shot against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Acting Health Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that aside from the 50 percent goal for booster shots, the government also has the goal of vaccinating 90 percent of the elderly population.

The department said 5,280,489 senior citizens have already been administered with the first dose; 6,772,318 are now fully vaccinated; and 2,260,098 have already been administered with booster shots.

Based on DOH data, the government already administered 154,117,005 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of June 30—68,323,212 (first dose), 70,695,498 (second dose) and 15,098,295 (booster dose).

“The DOH will make vaccines more accessible and available in markets, places of worship, malls, transport terminals, offices, factories, plazas, or schools,” Vergeire said on Wednesday (July 20).

READ: DOH to launch booster vaccine campaign to reach target under new admin

She said that to achieve 50 percent booster coverage, the department needs to vaccinate 23,840,032 individuals or 397,334 individuals every day for 60 days. Marcos earlier said there is no need for a law requiring booster shots.

Is it recommended?

The DOH said on May 18 that “after a careful study and consideration of the best available evidence, we shall now roll out, effective immediately, the second booster for our frontline health workers and senior citizens.”

“This is part of how we fight back against the virus. The second booster […] will enhance protection given by the first booster and the primary series against all variants, including the recent Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1.”

It said the administration of second booster doses to eligible individuals shall be implemented simultaneously nationwide, depending on the readiness of the Regional and Local Vaccination Operation Centers.

The United States-based Mayo Clinic, listing down the recommendations of the CDC, said a second booster shot is recommended for certain people who have a weakened immune system and people who are 50 years and older.

“This second booster dose can be given to those eligible four months after a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine,” it said, stressing that it is also recommended for people who got two doses of the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

It said, however, that one might consider delaying a second booster shot if he or she had COVID-19 in the past three months or if getting a second booster dose now would make him or her not want to get a booster in the future.

RELATED STORY: 2nd booster shot: Continuing the fight against COVID-19 in PH

“Kids age[d] 12 and older who have a weakened immune system, got both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and got a single booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine four months ago can also get a second booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.”

‘Don’t waste it’

As early as last month, Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin has been calling on the government to expand the second booster dose coverage to the general public for complete protection against the disease.

Last Tuesday, the lawmaker reiterated her appeal, noting that more than 23 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated to and bought by the government are set to expire.

“There are expiring vaccines, there are people who want a second shot, a second booster, and actual real-world data show advantages of having 2 boosters especially among those with comorbidity and among those 50 years old and above,” she said.


Based on data from Bantay Bakuna and the National Task Force Against COVID-19, the Philippines, as of June 27, has received a total of 245, 382,600 vaccine doses.

While the government is already set to launch a campaign to expand booster coverage, worries on the possible side effects of the vaccines, remain the top reason for the decision of certain Filipinos to reject inoculation.

Only 1.1 million have received the second booster dose so far, the DOH said,

As indicated by the March 16-31 data from Johns Hopkins Center for Communications program, 60 percent of Filipino respondents who would “probably, probably not and definitely not” get vaccinated were “concerned about side effects.”

READ: Amid push for boosters, many in PH still fear ‘side effects’

The figure is nearly unchanged from the 63 percent who reported the same concerns about vaccines in the same period in February.


Other hesitant respondents said they “plan to wait to see if it’s safe,” 29 percent; they have “other” reasons, 24 percent; they “don’t believe I need a vaccine,” 23 percent; they “don’t know if vaccines will work,” 19 percent; and “it’s against my religious beliefs” and “don’t like vaccines,” both at 13 percent.

Garin said administering a second booster shot is needed, considering that vaccine-induced protection takes at least two weeks to a month before it takes effect: “How do we fight? We increase our protection. No room for delay.”

READ: More 2nd booster shots for COVID-19 pushed

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