WITH the expected arrival of the updated Covid-19 vaccine next month, a former secretary of health and now Iloilo lawmaker called on the Department of Health (DOH) to now draft the guidelines on how to administer the second generation vaccines against the virus.
Iloilo Rep. Janette L. Garin said in an interview there are still no guidelines from health authorities on the use of the second-generation (2G) or the bivalent vaccines.
“There are no guidelines. All programs should have guidelines, there should be accompanying guidelines for implementation,” she said.
The doctor-lawmaker said the government should educate the public that a second booster shot is a prerequisite in getting the bivalent vaccines.
“Let’s prepare the community. They should be informed why the people need their second booster against Covid-19,” she said.
As of November 20, there were 20,972,552 individuals who received their booster or additional dose. This was lower than 73,771,386 fully vaccinated individuals.
According to Garin, the bivalent vaccine contains protection against the Omicron variant.
The highly transmissible Omicron variant is less virulent than the Delta variant, she added.
The DOH said the Omicron variant is a mutated Covid-19 virus first described in South Africa last November 2021.
The health agency recommends people to receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last Covid-19 vaccine dose.
The updated (bivalent) boosters are called “bivalent” because they protect against both the original virus that causes Covid-19 and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5.
Previous boosters are called “monovalent” because they were designed to protect against the original virus that causes Covid-19. They also provide some protection against Omicron, but not as much as the updated (bivalent) boosters.
The DOH said the virus that causes Covid-19 has changed over time. The different versions of the virus that have developed over time are called variants.
Moreover, Garin said DOH should have the guidelines even before the bivalent vaccines arrived in the country to save time.
During the first booster doses, Garin said the government did not allow them to be administered immediately although the jabs are already in the country.
“We should ask them about the guidelines. Kapag dumating ba ang bakuna sa December, pwede na ibigay, sino ang pwedeng bigyan at sino ang pwedeng magbigay?,” said Garin. [When the vaccine arrives in December, can it be given, who can give it and who can give it?”]