MANILA, Mar 7 (Mabuhay) –Infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante on Monday said the second booster shot is only recommended for senior citizens and immunocompromised for now, and not yet for the younger or general population.

“For the more vulnerable population, the 60 years old and above, and immunocompromised, ito ‘yung ina-ano natin ngayon na sana mabigyan ng pangalawang booster para talaga ang protection dito is against the severe form of COVID,” Solante said in a radio interview.

[We are pushing for a second booster shot for the more vulnerable population like the 60 years old and above and the immunocompromised, so they could get protected against the severe form of COVID-19.]

Solante then explained that the health experts’ advice remains for those who have completed their primary vaccine series to get one booster shot after three to six months.

“For the younger population, ‘yung tinatawag nating immunocompetent, I don’t think we need additional booster. With the ability of this vaccine to protect us against severe infection, alam naman talaga natin na pwede rin tayong mahawahan pero ang importante nito, hindi tayo mag-severe [we know that we can still be infected but the important thing is that it’s not severe],” he said.

“So I think, the first booster for the younger population may be enough. Wala pa tayong [we don’t have yet] recommendation for a second booster,” he added.

Health Undersecretary and National Vaccination Operations Center chairperson Dr. Myrna Cabotaje said on Saturday that vaccinations at local government units nationwide slowed down the past week, with some people losing the sense of urgency when it comes to booster shots.

This is why the priority for the fourth wave of the “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” national vaccination drive will be senior citizens who have not yet completed their primary dose series and those set for booster shots.

“Napaka-importante especially with the vulnerable population na sana pupunta kayo sa vaccination centers. ‘Yung hindi pa nagpa-booster, magpa-booster na kayo. ‘Yung hindi pa nagpabakuna, ito na ‘yung panahon na talagang kailangan na tayong magpabakuna,” Solante added.

[It is very important especially for the vulnerable population to go to vaccination centers. Those who have not received their booster shots yet, get it now. Those who have not been vaccinated, this is the time when we really need to be vaccinated.]

Currently, the Philippine government is administering third doses to senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals, while booster shots are given to those who completed the primary doses–single for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, double for the other bands.

Based on the Department of Health’s national COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, 10.2 million Filipinos have received booster shots as of February 28.

Meanwhile, at least 61.5 million individuals have received one dose, and 63.3 million have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the country. (MNS)

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