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DOH expands COVID-19 bivalent booster coverage

ILOILO CITY (PIA) -- Following the lifting of the State of Public Health Emergency in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) issued guidelines for expanding the inoculation of vulnerable populations with the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine.

In a press release, the DOH Western Visayas Center for Health Development explained that this move is pursuant to DOH Memorandum No. 2023-0256 which aims to vaccinate individuals aged 18 years old and above who belong to priority groups A1 or healthcare workers, A2 or senior citizens, and A3 or adults with comorbidities, and their subgroups – A1.1 to A1.9 or the expanded A1, A2.1 and A2.2, and the expanded A3.

LONG TERM IMMUNITY. Dr. Jane Roches Juanico-Esteva, chief of the Department of Health (DOH) 6 Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) cascades, during the PIA 6 online Kapihan program, the provision of DOH Memorandum No. 2023-0256 on the inucolation of COVID-19 bivalent vaccine as booster doses for target vulnerable sectors.

The issuance refers also to the inoculation of the Bivalent Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as either their first, second, or third booster with at least four to six months interval from their last COVID-19 vaccine dose.

In an online PIA Kapihan program, Dr. Jane Roches Juanico-Esteva, chief of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU), noted that since the start of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in 2021, there were a total of 5,563,304 fully vaccinated individuals or 98.31 percent of the region’s target population of 5,658,712, as of March 2023 DOH 6 data.

Meanwhile, a total of 1,026,485 individuals received their first booster dose or 18.33% and some 117,165 or 2.07% for the second booster dose.

On the other hand, with this bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, the region was provided with a total of 11,760 doses and since then, Dr. Juanico-Esteva reported that they were able to vaccinate 4,447 individuals of 37.81% of the said number of doses.

However, with the expansion of the rollout and considering the limited number of doses available in the region, the medical officer clarified that they are now utilizing a phased approach to prioritize the healthcare workers, senior citizens, and the most vulnerable sectors.

Dr. Juanico-Esteva added that the remaining doses will be distributed to the various health facilities in the provinces and cities of the region.

Meanwhile, DOH 6 regional director Dr. Adriano P. Sub-an, in a press statement, cited that the pandemic has proven how essential vaccines are in reducing deaths due to COVID-19.

“Vaccination remains to be the most important way in our collective efforts to fight this virus, and booster vaccines are essential in maintaining long-term immunity. As we approach this endemic phase, a better vaccination program with the continuing support of our partners and stakeholders is a key factor that would allow us to be on the right path towards a better and healthier Pilipinas,” he added. (AAL/FRG/PIA6)

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Franz Remar Garion

Region 6

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