BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Provincial Health Office of Negros Occidental has been tasked to study the possibility of administering Covid-19 booster shots to health workers vaccinated with Sinovac to strengthen their resistance against the highly contagious Delta variant, using the AstraZeneca vaccines it had procured.
Negros Occidental Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said yesterday that more than 100 Indonesian health workers, who were fully vaccinated with Sinovac, died, after getting infected with the Delta variant.
While there is no-go signal from the national government yet to administer booster shots to medical workers, Diaz said, “Let us not wait for that Indonesian experience to be ours.”
He stressed the need to plan ahead on how to avoid it, adding that the Delta variant is inching into the province.
The Department of Health earlier confirmed that two residents of Antique in Panay had been infected with the Delta variant, and one of them died.
But the DOH has issued a stern warning against medical workers administering Covid-19 booster shots, adding that they will face sanctions.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH is not yet recommending the use of booster shots as more evidence is needed to determine if an additional shot is necessary to protect people against Covid-19.
She reminded healthcare workers that the emergency use authorizations issued for the vaccines do not indicate the use of a booster dose.
Diaz stressed the need to protect health workers, who are in the danger zone, from the Delta variant.
“I hope the DOH will think about it as soon as possible,” he said. “While we are in the process of strategizing it, protecting our health workers using our own procured vaccines, how about the donated DOH vaccines, if we can possibly use it to strengthen the immune system of our health workers, in the light of the Indonesian experience,” he added.
San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora earlier admitted that he received two booster shots after getting inoculated with Sinopharm, the Chinese vaccine brand also administered to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The provincial government of Negros Occidental recently received 2,900 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, that forms part of the 100,000 doses it purchased, through a tripartite agreement with DOH and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company.
Diaz said the 2,900 doses will be for the inoculation of Negrenses in the A4 category, or the essential workers. The vaccines received by the province from the national government will be strictly for residents in the A1, A2, and A3 categories, or the health workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities, respectively.*