Booster shots not yet recommended in PH amid short supply of vaccines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 16, 2021   •   223

MANILA, Philippines—Booster shots are still not recommended in the Philippines, according to National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, Galvez said the recommendation for booster shots will depend on the supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the country while noting the global shortage and citizens who have yet to receive their first dose.

“This is still forbidden, booster shots, considering nakita natin napakaliit pa ng porsyento ng ating population na fully vaccinated. Nakita natin na more than 10 percent pa lang ang atin ang fully vaccinated and there 90 million Filipinos who are still waiting to be vaccinated,” he said.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Vaccine Experts Panel head Dr. Nina Gloríani said booster shots are recommended to be taken nine months or a year after receiving the second dose. It would also depend on the brand of COVID-19 vaccine. She also said the country should first achieve herd immunity before recommending booster shots.

Huwag tayong magmadali. Bigyan natin ang mga kababayan natin ng chance na makapagpabakuna rin para ma-achieve natin ang population protection, (Let us not rush. Let us give oour fellowmen a chance to get vaccinated and achieve population protection) and ultimately, ang herd immunity,” Gloríani said.

The vaccine expert panel is still reviewing whether to provide booster shots for immunocompromised citizens.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said they will hold accountable those who are getting unauthorized booster shots.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. urged the public to wait for more citizens to be vaccinated. However, the national government said it can make an exemption for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and seafarers.

“Antayin muna natin mabakunahan ang karamihan ng ating mga kababayan bago tayo magbooster shot, siguro we can make an exemption doon sa mga OFW sa mga seafarers na kinakailangang magpabakuna ng western brands kasi iyon naman po ay requirement ng kanilang employers,” he said. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

Phl expands coverage of travel restrictions to 7 more countries due to Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ travel restrictions to control the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant had been expanded to include seven more countries.

In a statement released Sunday (November 28), Cabinet Secretary and acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) added Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy to the red list.

Already on the red list are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

“Inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to red list countries/jurisdictions/territories within the last 14 days prior to arrival to any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed,” Nograles said.

“Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List countries, jurisdictions, or territories,” he added.

The red list or areas considered as “high-risk” for COVID-19 will be updated after December 15.

Passengers who are already in transit and all those who have been to the red list countries/territories/jurisdictions within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines and who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of November 30 are exempted from this restriction.

They will, however, undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the seventh day.

Nograles further said that passengers merely transiting through the red countries, will not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country if they stayed at the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry by immigration authorities.

However, they will still be required to comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols. —/mbmf

Gov’t eyes possible return of face shield policy amid Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The national government is mulling over the possibility of bringing back the implementation of the face shield policy following the threats from the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron (B1.1.529), said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.

Galvez made the announcement on Sunday (November 28) after the detection of the Omicron variant in South Africa and other European countries, causing global panic and the tightening of restrictions.

“We will look at the possibility. ‘Yan ang inaano ni (Health) Sec (Francisco) Duque. He is pro na maibalik ang any protections na pwede natin gamitin kasi some people from WHO (World Health Organization) also believe that kaya nagkaroon ng magandang result sa Delta as to others because of the protection of face shield,” said Galvez during a virtual presser with reporters.

Galvez also said that no case of Omicron variant, which is considered to be more contagious, has been reported in the country as of yet.

President Rodrigo Duterte had allowed face shields to be optional for Alert Level 3, 2, and 1 but it is still required for Alert level 5 areas. —/mbmf

Duterte calls for creation of framework for vaccine certificate recognition

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has called for the creation of a framework for vaccine certificate recognition which will allow fully-vaccinated individuals, regardless of vaccine brand, to safely travel cross-border, the Presidential Communications team said Sunday (November 28).

“We need a framework on vaccine certificate recognition that is scientific, non-discriminatory, and compliant with WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines,” the President said.

The statement further said that the President’s sentiment comes after the decision of some countries, including the European Union, to only allow individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 using the four vaccines recognized by its European Medicines Agency.

“One must not withhold recognition on the basis of vaccines used when access to certain brands remain unequal,” Duterte said. —/mbmf

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