The Department of Health (DOH) has approved five out of eight COVID-19 brands for the roll-out of booster shots for immunocompromised individuals on April 25—with options for house-to-house vaccination for the bedridden and hard-to-reach patients.
In its memorandum dated April 22 and released April 23, the DOH said the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) has allowed Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, and Sinopharm to be administered to those who received organ transplants, those who take maintenance medicines, cancer patients, HIV/AIDS patients, and those who undergo chronic dialysis, among others.
The HTAC didn't recommend Janssen, Gamaleya Sputnik V and Gamaleya Sputnik Light as boosters, with the two Gamaleya COVID-19 vaccines having no emergency use authorizations just yet.
In its implementing guidelines, the DOH said individuals aged 18 and up may be given a booster dose at least three months after their third dose or first booster dose.
They may opt for homologous vaccines, or the same brand as their primary series, or heterologous vaccines, or another brand approved by the government.
Based on current evidence, the DOH said homologous vaccine recipients may experience fewer adverse effects, though the agency is recommending heterologous vaccination to the immunocompromised as it's "more effective" in inducing immune response.
In any case, vaccinees shall be given the option to choose the brand as they please depending on the availability of vaccine brands, the DOH noted.
There will also be house-to-house vaccination for bedridden patients and hard to-reach eligible individuals, as well as hospital vaccination for immunocompromised patients that do regular follow-ups.
HIV Treatment Hubs are also mandated to provide vaccination services to their patients.
The DOH memo was signed by Usec. Myrna Cabotaje, who also chairs the country's national vaccination operations.
To date, over 67.1 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Some 12.7 million individuals have also received their boosters.