THE Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) finally issued on Friday its “guidance” on the administration of Covid-19 booster shots to frontline health-care workers (HCWs) and senior citizens following a Department of Health (DOH) announcement that these two priority groups under A1 and A2 can already avail of their second booster shot.
“Considering the role of HCWs in the health-care system and their higher risk of infection…we recommend the administration of a second booster of an mRNA vaccine (Tozinameran/ Comirnaty [Pﬁzer] Covid-19 Vaccine or Spikevax [Moderna] Covid-19 Vaccine) for the prevention of symptomatic Covid-19 for all health-care workers at least 4 months after their ﬁrst booster,” HTAC said.
Furthermore, HTAC also recommended a second booster of Tozinameran/Comirnaty [Pﬁzer] Covid-19 Vaccine for senior citizens (60 years old and above) at high risk for severe Covid-19 and death) at least four months since the ﬁrst booster shot.
These recommendations have been approved by Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, and upon his instructions to the National Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center immediately proceeded with its rollout.
Following Section 71 of Republic Act No. 11525 or the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, the HTAC has been reviewing published and unpublished reports and monitoring World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations regarding the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine second booster among HCWs and the senior citizens. The HTAC has initially recommended a fourth dose for the immunocompromised population on April 28, 2022.
The HTAC also noted that it recognizes the challenges faced by the DOH and local government units (LGUs) in promoting and implementing the Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign.
“Indeed, there is a call to work together to address the need to enhance the coverage of both the primary series and ﬁrst booster vaccination in the general population (ages 18 years old and above), especially among the senior citizens and those with comorbidities,” it added.
The HTAC noted the substantial impact of the ﬁrst booster vaccination in restoring the protection from the primary series.
Finally, the HTAC emphasized that these recommendations are interim and it is actively following the latest evidence, which is rapidly evolving.
Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the HTAC shall have the authority to make recommendations to the DOH on Covid-19 vaccines based on preliminary data from Phase III clinical trials and WHO recommendations in the absence of completed Phase III and Phase IV clinical trials.
“Provided, that the Covid-19 manufacturer has been issued an EUA (emergency use authorization) by FDA: Provided further, that the authority granted to the HTAC herein shall only be valid for as long as the EUA issued by the FDA is in effect such that in the event of revocation or cancellation thereof by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Director-General, the HTAC process shall be terminated regardless of stage, and if it has been completed, the results shall be set aside,” the DOH stated.
Image credits: PNA/Joey Razon