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Gov't mulls adding booster shot as requirement for fully vaxxed

The government is looking at including booster dose as a requirement for an individual to be considered as fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a radio interview, Health Undersecretary and National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) chairperson Dr. Myrna Cabotaje said the World Health Organization (WHO) defined the term “fully vaccinated” as those who have had the primary vaccine series.

This then is being discussed by local officials to determine if a booster dose could be added as a requirement for fully vaccinated individuals to encourage more people to get their third dose or booster jabs.

“We are looking at the possibility of adding a booster dose, baka pwedeng fully vaccinated, updated na vaccination para mahikayat ‘yung mga tao. The studies are currently being discussed, ano pa ‘yung puwede nating gawin para ma-encourage ‘yung ang ating mamamayan magpa-booster,” she said.

(We are looking at the possibility of adding a booster dose, maybe it could be fully vaccinated or updated vaccination, to encourage more people to get boosters. The studies are currently being discussed to see what else we can do to have our people get boosted.)

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion last week suggested that the term "fully vaccinated" be redefined to cover those who have received a booster shot.

This proposal was, however, rebuffed by experts, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, saying that it is inappropriate to do so, considering that institutions like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not redefine their meaning of “fully vaccinated.”

Asked about Concepcion’s proposal to put an expiry date on the validity of vaccination cards and be replaced by booster cards once they expire, Cabotaje said, “That’s also a good strategy.”

However, she emphasized that there should be a detailed enforcement of the vaccine cards to see how late the vaccination of a person is, or if the vaccine cards they present in certain establishments really belong to them.

“Hindi naman lahat titignan, kahit mag-random ka lang para mataon ay makita mo ay incomplete ka. That could be another strategy,” she said.

(You don’t have to check all the vaccine cards. It could be done randomly to see if a person has completed his or her vaccination. That could be another strategy.)

For his part, National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 medical adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa said on Wednesday he is in favor of Concepcion’s suggestion in order to encourage more people to get their booster shots against COVID-19.

Cabotaje said only about 12 million of the target population have received their booster shots, and the government needs to ramp up its booster drive as immunity from the primary vaccine series wanes after a certain period of time.  —KBK, GMA News