Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Sunday, November 28, that companies can use coronavirus vaccines they ordered as booster shots, but they must follow government guidelines on which groups are already eligible to receive additional doses.
“[Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque, [Trade] Secretary Mon Lopez, and I – we are for the private sector using their expiring doses. We just need to wait for the EUA (emergency use authorization) because the EUAs that came from [Food and Drug Administration] DG (Director General) Eric Domingo are only for A1, A2, A3,” Galvez said in Filipino.
As of late November, the Philippines has cleared only health workers (A1) and senior citizens (A2) to receive boosters, while immunocompromised individuals (A3) were allowed to get third doses.
Galvez also said companies must wait for eligible individuals to reach the six-month mark since their second dose.
The Philippines’ largest business groups earlier urged the government to allow the private sector to use their purchased COVID-19 vaccines as booster shots for their employees and families, citing an oversupply of doses.
“We no longer have a shortage, and with such a large stockpile, we risk having vaccines expire and go to waste,” the groups said in a joint statement.
The 26 groups who signed the joint statement added that allowing the private sector to use their doses as boosters would help accelerate the country’s vaccination program.
The Department of Health (DOH) previously told companies they cannot use their vaccines as boosters, unless those receiving the shots are health workers, senior citizens, and immunocompromised individuals.
The DOH said companies can give their extra doses to the government to prevent vaccine wastage. The national government can get the stocks and replenish them later on once firms can already use them.
Meanwhile, Philippine health authorities said they want to wait for the recommendation of the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts before opening the booster rollout to more groups.
The Philippines is targeting to vaccinate at least 50% of its population in 2021, including 80% of the 12.7 million minors aged 12 to 17 years old. It also wants to finish administering booster shots to 1.6 million health workers and some 5 to 8 million senior citizens and persons with comorbidities by the end of the year. – Rappler.com