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DOH: COVID-19 booster shots still not recommended but included in proposed 2022 budget

The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday underscored that the use of a COVID-19 booster shot has not yet been recommended by experts despite its inclusion in the proposed budget for 2022.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said evidence supporting booster doses remains “minimal” and incomplete.

“Equity and safety [are] what the government is trying to consider now. Hindi po natin sinasara ang pinto (We are not closing our doors to booster shots),” she told a briefing.

“Alam po natin mangyayari at mangyayari itong booster shots na ito and, actually, we already have saved money for our booster shots for 2022 kung saka-sakali. Nakalagay na po ‘yan don sa aming pinropose na budget,” she added.

(We know that we will reach a point where we would need booster shots and, actually, we already have saved money for our booster shots for 2022 if ever it is approved. That is included in our proposed budget.)

Vergeire said she has yet to confirm the proposed amount for booster shots but noted that the initial computation was P45 billion.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the P45 billion for booster shots is unprogrammed, meaning it will only be funded if the government will be able to raise enough money for it. 

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said this was because of a lack of a solid recommendation for booster doses

Vergeire assured the public, however, that the DOH has been working with the DBM, the Finance Department, and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. for the purchase of booster shots.

“We are already doing the planning. Meron na po tayong computations. Ito po ay ibibigay na po natin kapag na-final na natin (We have computations that we will submit once final),” she said.

The United States earlier approved booster shots for Americans eight months after getting fully vaccinated

The World Health Organization, however, said evidence still does not support the use of booster doses— RSJ, GMA News