‘Courtesy extended by gov’t?’ DOH adviser hit for take on health workers’ booster shots

November 17, 2021 - 6:25 PM
Booster shot in PH
Health Secretary Francisco Duque inoculates a health worker with a booster shot of COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine during a program launching the government's vaccination drive to provide booster shots to front-liners, at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, November 17, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

An adviser of the pandemic task force in the country was reminded that medical workers are deserving to be given booster shots against COVID-19.

Infectious disease expert Edsel Salvana, a member of the health department’s technical advisory group, on Wednesday was cited as saying that booster shots are a choice and courtesy extended by the Department of Health to eligible medical workers.

His comments came as the country starts inoculating health workers again for sustained protection against the virus.

Healthcare workers form the A1 priority group of the government’s vaccination drive against COVID-19.

A2 are the elderlies while A3 are adults with comorbidities.

The DOH has started to give booster shots to medical workers who are on the foremost frontlines of the pandemic.

Majority of them also received CoronaVac, a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac which has the lowest efficacy rate among its contemporaries.

Following Salvana’s comments about boosters being given as a choice and courtesy, some online Filipinos, including those in the medical field, told him off.

“Utang na loob ang booster shot? Remind me again where the budget of the DOH (and the entire government TBH) comes from?” a Twitter user responded.

“TBH” is short for “to be honest.”

Another online user said that it is “common knowledge” for healthcare workers to be given booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“That’s a common knowledge! Sit down!” he tweeted, referencing Salvana’s controversial words on the online platform last year. He then said that people should only listen to experts like him and epidemiologists amid the pandemic.

“Courtesy? It is the obligation of the government to provide,” a different Filipino responded to the doctor.

Some healthcare workers also commented against Salvana’s take.

“HINDI ‘YUN COURTESY, EDSEL. We deserve the boosters. What we don’t deserve [is] your non-admission of your fault on the face shield [hullabaloo],” a Twitter user, who identified himself as a doctor of pharmacy said.

“So utang na loob ba namin?” wrote another online user who identified herself as a licensed physician.

“Our healthcare workers have fought extremely hard during this pandemic. It is through their selflessness, hard work and sacrifices that we were able [to] combat the COVID-19 surges. For that, they’re truly deserving of the booster doses, no strings/courtesies attached,” another Twitter user in the medical field said.

The World Health Organization is not yet officially recommending the rollout of COVID-19 booster shots but some countries like the United States and Israel have been administering it for the past months.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), data “suggest vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms over time.”

“Emerging evidence also shows that among healthcare and other frontline workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infections is also decreasing over time,” it said.

“This lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of decreasing protection as time passes since getting vaccinated, as well as the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant,” CDC added.

“Data from small clinical trials show that a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished their initial series 6 months earlier. A similar clinical trial showed that a J&J/Janssen booster shot also increased the immune response in participants who completed their single-dose vaccine at least 2 months earlier,” the US health agency said.

Healthcare workers in the United States have been inoculated against COVID-19 earlier than their counterparts in the Philippines.

They have started offering booster shots in September.