The Department of Health reckons that only about half of the country’s 1.2 million healthcare workers have yet to receive a second COVID-19 booster dose, seven months after the shots for high risk groups was rolled out.
As of December 12, the DOH said only 603,905 healthcare workers have received two booster shots to ramp up immunity against COVID-19 due to waning protection from the primary vaccine doses.
Way back in May, health authorities have made the second booster shots available to healthcare workers, persons at least 50 years old, and individuals 18 to 49 years old with existing medical conditions.
The DOH said it has cumulatively provided second boosters to a total of 3,691,412 eligible Filipinos, out of a population of more than 100 million. It adds that out of the 1,196,107 eligible health worker population, 592,202 are still due for their second booster shot. During that time, millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines have gone to waste due to expiration.
The DOH also maintains that it still does not advise giving second booster shots to the rest of the eligible population for now.
COVID-19 vaccination is currently provided free of charge by the government to Filipinos 5 years old and above. Despite the surplus in vaccines and wastage, health authorities have not approved giving booster shots to children 5 to 11 years old, while persons 12 to 49 years old are cleared to receive only one booster dose after their primary jabs which usually consists of two doses.
Based on DOH data, 73.7 million Filipinos have been given their primary doses but of that number, some 52 million persons have not availed of any booster shot at all.
With so much work left to do when it comes to administering booster doses during a pandemic that has not yet been declared over, what is our Secretary of Health doing? Would the situation be better if our country actually had one?*