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The Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday, November 19, that the government will prioritize individuals with specific medical conditions once it starts giving third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a press briefing on Friday morning, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the list of medical conditions was based on the World Health Organization’s Strategic Group of Experts on Immunization (WHO’s SAGE).
- Individuals who are receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancer of the blood
- Individuals who had an organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
- Individuals who received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or taking immunosuppressive therapy
- Individuals who have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency states
- Individuals who have advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Individuals who are receiving active treatments with corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress immune response
- Dialysis patients
- Individuals with autoimmune disease and treatment with specific immunosuppressive medications
- Individuals diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromised as advised by their physician
- Individuals with a rare disease
The health spokesperson said that individuals with any of the medical conditions mentioned above should secure a medical clearance from their physicians before they could get the third shot.
Vergeire did not mention when the government will start giving third doses, adding that the DOH and All Experts Group will meet to finalize the guidelines.
Not to be confused with booster doses, a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is an additional shot offered as part of a primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Vergeire earlier explained that a third dose is given as part of the primary series of vaccination. She said other vaccines, like those against Hepatitis B, are administered in three doses.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said, “The objective of an additional dose in the primary series is to optimize or enhance the immune response to establish a sufficient level of effectiveness against disease.”
Meanwhile, the WHO defines a booster dose as something administered to a vaccinated person who has already completed a primary vaccination series.
A booster dose becomes necessary after the immunity and clinical protection provided by the original shots “has fallen below a rate deemed sufficient in that population.”
Learn more about the difference between a third dose and a booster shot below.
On Wednesday, November 17, the Philippines started administering booster doses to the priority group A1 or health workers. The DOH said that those receiving their jabs may choose the COVID-19 vaccine brand as their booster shot, depending on the availability in the vaccination sites.
Health workers are the first group to be cleared for booster doses because they were the first batch which become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines when the Philippines started its immunization campaign in March 2021 or seven months ago.
The Health Technology Assessment Council or HTAC recommended that two groups be made eligible to receive a booster before the end of 2021: health workers and senior citizens vaccinated at least six months ago.
The remaining priority groups A3-A5 may be able to access boosters later in 2022. – Rappler.com