News Release

Gov’t eyeing heterologous vaccination for planned COVID-19 booster shot – vaccine czar

Presidential Adviser on Peace Process and National Task Force against Coronavirus Disease-2019 (NTF COVID-19) chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., gives an update to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Palace on October 25, 2021. ALBERTO ALCAIN/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The government is considering “heterologous vaccination” for fully vaccinated individuals who are up for their third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to boost immunity, said the country’s vaccine czar.

Heterologous vaccination, or mixing different vaccine brands, would ensure the public’s immunity against the deadly coronavirus regardless of manufacturers’ supply, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday night during a meeting on government’s COVID-19 interventions.

In his report to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Galvez said they are awaiting vaccine experts’ recommendations before giving the third dose specifically to healthcare workers, immunocompromised, and the elderly.

The emergency use authorization (EUA) issued to different vaccine brands must also be amended before giving the booster shot to the intended segment of the population, according to the vaccine czar.

Apart from heterologous vaccination, the Galvez said one other government strategy is to vaccinate 90 percent of the country’s student population and teaching personnel in the education sector to gradually bring the country back to normalcy.

Galvez, who is also the National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer, said that apart from economic revival, the government also focuses on pediatric vaccination, considering the psychological and emotion toll of the pandemic on the youth as a result of the nearly two years of lockdowns and restrictions.

Citing studies conducted by psychologists, Galvez noted 300 to 400 percent increase in cases of depression and suicidal ideation among the younger population during the pandemic.

Once the children are vaccinated against the coronavirus, the government could start easing the restrictions, allowing young people to go out, socialize, and play, he said.

With the help of the local government units (LGUs), Galvez said he is optimistic that pediatric vaccination will be completed by December this year.

Meanwhile, the vaccine czar said the Duterte administration’s good diplomatic relations with other countries paved the way for the continuous vaccine deliveries to the Philippines despite the slump in global vaccine supply.

Donations from other countries like the United States, Japan, Germany, China, as well as the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility have reached 30 million doses, he said, noting that Australia and Brunei also made commitments to donate vaccines as well.

Continuous vaccine supply is also ensured for this month and in the first quarter of 2022, according to Galvez.

For the donations alone, the COVAX vaccine-sharing program is scheduled to deliver vaccine shipment by end-October while the US committed to deliver 2 million doses.

Japan, on the other hand, has delivered 1.9 million jabs while China had just completed its 100th vaccine shipment to the Philippines.

At present, the government has secured an inventory of 41 million vaccine doses, which are stored in cold chain warehouses across the country, he noted. PND