COVID-19 booster shots, primary series not mandatory

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THE Department of Health (DOH) insisted that administering COVID-19 booster shots, including the primary series of vaccination, is still not mandatory.

The clarification from the DOH came after it was reported that President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. agreed to the proposal of the DOH to require the first COVID-19 booster dose before an individual can be considered vaccinated against the disease.

We also did not give any statement that boosters will become mandatory. Wala po yan sa ating direksyon, wala po yan sa ating mga (that is not part of our direction, that is not part of our) pronouncements,” according to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in an online briefing.

“Ang atin lang pong sinasabi kailangan maitaas lang po talaga ang antas ng (what we are saying is that there is a need to increase the level of) booster doses uptake dito po sa ating bansa dahil nakikita po natin (here in our country because we can already see) and even our experts are saying that our immunity for our population is already waning. So kailangan po natin itaas ang antas ng ating pagbabakuna (we need to increase the level of our vaccination) specifically ang ating mga (for our) boosters,” Vergeire explained.

A few DOH officials met with Marcos to discuss the current COVID-19 situation and vaccination coverage in the country, and recommended strategies to come up with a better government response to the pandemic.

Vergeire also said that the topic of their meeting with the president is largely technical and there was no discussion on who will be the next DOH chief.

Up to now, the president has not yet designated a DOH secretary who will replace former DOH head Francisco Duque III despite the continued rise of COVID-19 and dengue cases in the country.

She said the president fully supports the DOH, its COVID-19 response and vaccination program.

“Nakapagbigay ang ating Presidente ng mga (The president already gave) instructions and guidance para sa kagawaran ng kalusugan kung paano natin ipapatupad at kung paano natin maipapataas ang antas ng ating (for the DOH on how wwe can implement and how we can increase the level of our) response for COVID and at the same time improve coverage para sa ating pagbabakuna dito sa ating bansa (for our vaccination here in the country),” Vergeire added. 

Meanwhile, the DOH again announced that children aged 12-17 can already receive their booster shot against the disease.

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