Govt backs booster shots for health staff

Protective jab: A man receiving a vaccine dose in Quezon city. The government continues to urge Filipinos to get vaccinated as Covid-19 cases keep rising in the country. — AP

HEALTH Secretary Francisco Duque III says he supports providing Covid-19 booster shots for healthcare workers, but a larger percentage of the public should get vaccinated 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 yesterday.

“Many have yet to receive even 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 had low vaccination coverage.

He added that senior citizens and persons with comorbidity who had yet to be vaccinated should be inoculated first before providing booster shots since they were more vulnerable to the severe variants of Covid-19.

Before Duque’s statement, the Department of Health (DOH) and its advisers earlier decided not to authorise 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”.

Meanwhile, the government will start easing the lockdown restrictions in Metro Manila starting tomorrow, allowing more public establishments in the capital to operate at limited capacities.Roque said the inter-agency task force had approved some establishments and activities to operate at a maximum of 30% indoor venue capacity and 50% outdoor venue capacity.

The task force allowed this “provided that all workers or employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and the establishments strictly maintain minimum public health standards”. — Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN/Xinhua

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