COVID-19 Crisis: Department of Health (DOH) pushing to redefine fully vaccinated status

For some time now, the terms fully vaccinated has officially been used by the national authorities to describe a patient who received two doses of most COVID-19 vaccine brands (note: Janssen vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is a single dose vaccine). That may soon change as the Department of Health (DOH) is pushing to redefine what fully vaccinated means in relation to the recent COVID-19 developments here in the Philippines, according to a Manila Bulletin news report.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news report. Some parts in boldface…

The Department of Health (DOH) said it will push for the redefinition of “fully vaccinated” against Covid-19— which is to include a booster dose.

“Katulad ng nasabi namin noon, we’ll be really supporting, we have recommended the redefinition of our fully vaccinated–kung saan ang first two doses plus yung booster shot (As we have said before, we’ll be really supporting, we have recommended the redefinition of our fully vaccinated – first two doses plus a booster shot),” said DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire in a press briefing on Wednesday, July 20.

Such a move can be used as “incentives and disincentives to people,” said Vergeire.

“So, people cannot go to these public spaces or cannot enter restaurants and they just eat outside if they don’t have that fully vaccinated status. ‘Yun sana yung gusto natin ipatupad pero siyempre marami dapat tayong ikonsidera kapag ginawa natin ito (That’s what we want to implement but of course, we have a lot to consider before we can do this)” she said.

“Kaya patuloy pakikipagusap sa iba’t-ibang ahensya pati na rin sa (We continue to discuss this with various agencies as well as the) Office of the President if this is going to be feasible or not. So, hahantayin po natin na mabuo ang ating pakikipag-usap para hindi natin maiwan ang ibang sektor sa usapin na ito (So, we will wait for all discussions to be completed so that we do not leave other sectors behind in this matter),” she added.

Vergeire said they will propose this strategy once the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is reconstituted.

“Primarily that’s what we are thinking about. Hopefully in the coming days, pag convene ng IATF, mailagay na natin sa ating agenda, mapag-usapan, mapagkasunduan, at mairekomenda na uli sa ating Presidente (when the IATF convenes, we will be able to put this on our agenda, discussed, come up with a decision, and make the recommendations to the President),” she said.

Second booster – In a related development, the DOH is not yet recommending the second booster shot for the general population.

“Hanggang sa ngayon, sinasabi ng mga eksperto (Until now, experts say)—especially for the general population—your first two doses and your first booster shot are still enough to protect you from severe and critical illness from this Covid-19 virus,” said Vergeire.

It is different for the immunocompromised, seniors, and healthcare workers. Kasi sila, hindi ganun ka robust ang kanilang immunity sa katawan… kaya binibigyan pa sila ng another dose (Because their immunity in the body is not that robust… so they are given another dose). That is based on evidence. Itong second booster for general population, hanggang sa ngayon, sparse pa rin ang datos para makapagbigay ng ebidensya that we can give this to our general population (This second booster for the general population, until now, the data is still sparse in order to provide evidence that we can give this to our general population),” she added.

As of this writing, the current definition of fully vaccinated still remains in effect. It will take the approval of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to make the revision happen at all.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this new development? What do you think about the DOH’s push to have fully vaccinated redefined? Do you think this will lead to confusion among all the people who got vaccinated with two doses nationwide?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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