IATF yet to approve COVID-19 booster, third shots for health workers, elderly – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2021   •   173

MANILA, Philippines – The proposal to give COVID-19 vaccine booster and third shots to healthcare workers, the elderly, and persons with co-morbidities has yet to get an approval from the government’s task force on pandemic response, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement following reports that the Department of Health (DOH) has greenlit the administration of booster and additional vaccine shots to vaccination priority groups.

Roque said the recommendation is still up for discussion at the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) meeting this week.

“’Yan po ay rekomendasyon ng HTAC. That will be tackled po, I think in the next meeting of IATF his Thursday,” he said.

Based on HTAC’s recommendation, the booster shots should be given within the fourth quarter of the year to health workers, the elderly, and persons with health risks who receive the jabs at least six months after the primary series.

The HTAC also recommended that the boosters should be based on the vaccine brands received by the individuals in the primary series.

The HTAC also pushed for the implementation of boosters for other eligible population in 2022 only if the A1 to A5 priority groups reach 50 percent in the primary series.

For the implementation of additional shots, particularly for immunocompromised individuals, the HTAC recommended that the dose will be given at least 18 days after they completed the initial COVID-19 vaccine series.

The third shot is recommended to be the same as those received in the primary series.

Over 1 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shots arrive in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Another batch of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine procured by the government arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday night.

The shipment, containing  1,082,250 vaccine doses, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 at past 8 p.m.

The said vaccine supply is expected to be used in the second round of nationwide vaccination drive set from December 15 to 17.

The government aims to vaccinate up to seven million people during this period.

With the arrival of the latest shipment of vaccines, the Philippines has now received around 150 million doses of various vaccine brands since February.

IATF revisits ‘no vaccine, no work’ policy

Maris Federez   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) announced that it is revisiting Resolutions 148-B and 149 on the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of onsite workers.

Department of Health (DOH) Usec. Charade Mercado-Grande, who is in the DOH-IATF Secretariat, said the resolutions mandating the “no vaccine, no work” policy is under review.

“The matter is already under review and discussion po, Mr. Chair,” she said during the House Committee on Labor and Employment hearing on Tuesday.

The House panel had earlier sent a letter to the IATF, urging the body to suspend the resolution that allows business establishments to implement the ‘no vaccine, no work” policy among onsite employees.

Mercado-Grande confirmed that the resolution is still in effect despite calls from members of the House to have it suspended.

Committee chair Rep. Eric Pineda expressed dismay over the seeming disregard of the IATF to their call.

“Wala man lang sagot sa amin, ni ha ni ho. Di sana tumawag man sila o nagparamdam man lang sila. But the way we feel it, especially my committee members, para kaming napapahiya dito. Para kaming hindi binibigyan ng importansya ng mga amo ninyo,” Pineda said.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Ferdinand Gaite shared the same sentiment.

“Tila hindi binibigyan ng pagpapahalaga itong napakalaki nang implication sa ating mga manggagawa sa kasalukuyan,” he said.

With this, Pineda warned that it will issue a subpoena to the officials of the IATF should the body continue to ignore their panel’s invitation to attend the hearing.

“Kasi we don’t want na umabot sa punto na this committee will now subpoena the members of the IATF just to compel them to attend this hearing,” Pineda said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

IATF updates testing, quarantine protocols; Apayao now under Alert Level 2

Maris Federez   •   December 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has approved testing and quarantine protocols for arriving international passengers in all ports of entry in the Philippines coming from countries/territories/ jurisdictions not classified under the Red List.

This was what was agreed upon in the task force’s meeting on Thursday (December 2).

In a statement released to reporters, acting spokesperson Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the new protocols shall take effect Friday, December 3.

As part of the new protocols, fully vaccinated individuals shall be required to have a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.

Upon arrival in the Philippines, they shall undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test taken on the 5th day, with the date of arrival being the first day.

Regardless of a negative result, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine up to the 14th day from the date of arrival.

On the other hand, individuals who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or whose vaccination status cannot be independently validated shall be required a negative RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.

Upon arrival in the Philippines, they shall undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test done on the 7th day, with the date of arrival being the first day.

Like those who are vaccinated, they, too, shall be required to undergo home quarantine up to the 14th day from the date of arrival, regardless of a negative RT-PCR test result.

The statement also said that the IATF has directed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to ensure that airlines board only passengers who comply with the negative RT-PCR test-before-travel requirement.

“The testing and quarantine protocols of minors, on the other hand, shall follow the testing and quarantine protocol of the parent/guardian traveling with them, regardless of the minor’s vaccination status and country of origin,” the directive read.

“For international passengers who have already arrived and are currently undergoing quarantine, they shall continue with the testing and quarantine protocols in place at the time of their arrival,” it added.

The directive further read that Filipinos from Red List countries allowed entry via government-initiated or non-government repatriations and Bayanihan Flights shall only be allowed to deplane via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and/or Clark International Airport.

The DOTr, through their attached agencies, is directed to ensure the compliance of airlines with this directive.

Upon arrival, passengers must comply with the testing and quarantine protocols as prescribed under IATF Resolution No. 149-A (s.2021).

Meanwhile, the IATF also amended the metrics for determining alert level classifications of provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities.

Amendments include removing the One-Week Growth Rate as a metric for escalation from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2, and the escalation of areas under Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2 if either case classification or total COVID-19 bed utilization increases to moderate risk or higher.

Also, part of the amendment is the escalation of areas under Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3 if both case classification and total COVID-19 bed utilization are at moderate risk, or if case classification is at high to critical risk.

With the implementation of the revised metrics, Apayao shall be classified under Alert Level 2 from December 3 to 15, Nograles said. —/mbmf

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