Following the reports on the Health Technology Assessment Council’s (HTAC) recommendation on booster doses, the Department of Health (DOH) clarified that the recommendations signed by the Secretary of Health are interim recommendations to guide sectoral planning and will be updated pending the assessment from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the amendment of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), and the release of the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (WHO SAGE) recommendation expected this November.

Furthermore, DOH says that the formal recommendation on boosters will have to be adapted into a policy with operational plans by the Department. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire also clarified that planning is underway for booster doses.

“Ito po ay nakuha doon sa HTAC website at pino-post naman po talaga ‘yan for transparency. Lahat naman ng plano ay underway na tulad naman ng sabi namin sa inyo we will have these additional doses for the immunocompromised, and booster shot for our senior citizens and healthcare workers,” said Undersecretary Vergeire when media asked about the said recommendation during the DOH Beat COVID-19 Media Forum last October 25.

While waiting for the guidelines on boosters, DOH reiterated that reaching eligible unvaccinated individuals 12 years old and above should be prioritized.

“The primary series of vaccines far outweigh the incremental benefit of boosters. We have to prioritize giving the primary series of these COVID-19 vaccines to the unvaccinated so they, too, can receive the additional protection that vaccines provide against hospitalizations and deaths,” said Undersecretary Vergeire.

On the mixing and matching of vaccine brands for boosters, the Department said that it will depend on FDA’s final assessment of the evidence submitted by the DOH All Experts Group (AEG).