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FDA OKs cutting interval for COVID-19 booster shots to 3 months

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the recommendation to cut down the interval period between the last COVID-19 vaccine dose to the booster dose by three months, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced Tuesday.

Duque said under the new policy, boosters may already be given to ages 18 and above, at least three months after the second dose of a primary two-dose vaccine, or least two months after the primary single-dose vaccine is given.

“We are exploring all possible options to safely mitigate the effects of more transmissible variants of COVID-19. The approval came at an opportune time as several countries also re-strategized in light of the Omicron and other COVID-19 variants that may emerge,” Duque said.

The health secretary underscored the importance of prioritizing vaccination among those who have yet to receive their COVID-19 vaccines.

“We call on our local government units to encourage their constituents to get vaccinated, especially the unvaccinated senior citizens and people with underlying medical conditions who are more vulnerable to having severe COVID-19,” Duque said.

“Ensuring enough coverage of the primary series while adhering to the minimum public health standards are crucial if we want to maintain low to minimal risk classification and have adequate health systems capacities especially during the holiday season,” he added.

He said operational guidelines have yet to be released, according to a report on GMA's State of the Nation on Tuesday.

In a Facebook post, the Department of Health on Wednesday released its recommended heterologous booster dose combinations:

  • AstraZeneca (primary series) — Pfizer, Moderna (booster)
  • Gamaleya Sputnik (primary series) — AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna (booster)
  • Moderna (primary series) — AstraZeneca, Pfizer (booster)
  • Pfizer (primary series) — AstraZeneca, Moderna (booster)
  • Sinovac (primary series) — AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna (booster)
  • Janssen (primary series) — AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna (booster)

The DOH maintained that the homologous vaccination or same brand vaccination for Sputnik and Janssen is not yet for implementation.

“The Department of Health also reiterates that booster shots are not recommended for ages 12-17 years old,” it said.

Duque said fully vaccinated individuals can receive COVID-19 booster dose after three months of vaccination of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to GMA’s State of the Nation Report on Tuesday.

Duque earlier called for inoculating individuals with booster doses within three months, saying it would confer higher protection.

Currently, fully-vaccinated individuals may get their booster shots after six months for some vaccine brands and three months for the Janssen vaccine.

The country started administering booster shots to healthcare workers on November 17 while seniors and immunocompromised individuals started receiving boosters shots on November 22.

The government started administering booster shots to all fully vaccinated adults on December 3. -- Richa Noriega and Joahna Lei Casilao/BAP/RSJ, GMA News