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What's The Difference Between A Booster Shot And A Third COVID-19 Vaccine Dose?

Here's an explainer!
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PHOTO: JEROME ASCAÑO
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With the speedy developments in COVID-19 vaccine development, it's easy to get confused about the different kinds of shots and who's eligible for what jab.

The World Health Organization recently recommended a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people with weakened immune systems such as the elderly. It also clarified that the third dose is different from a booster shot.

If you're among those who think that a third COVID-19 vaccine dose and a booster shot are the same, they're not.

For those who are confused, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the WHO representative to the Philippines, said a third dose is another shot of vaccine for those who are immunocompromised since they cannot sustain the immunity developed from the two doses.

Those who received China-made vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac are recommended to get a third dose of vaccine from the range of jabs approved for emergency use by the WHO according to Abeyasinghe.

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This is different from a booster—where another jab is offered to the public even those who do not have weakened immune systems.

"When we talk of boosters, we are talking of boosting immunity in a general population," Abeyasinghe said. "Right now we have no recommendation on a booster dose." (as of October 25) 

The WHO is set to issue guidelines for boosters in November, Abeyasinghe said, noting that the priority is still to provide the needed two doses of  COVID-19 vaccine to the majority of the population.

So far, the Philippines has fully vaccinated some 25 million of its people. The government aims to vaccinate at least 77 million people or 70% of its total population by February next year, ahead of the presidential elections.

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