Get second vaccine dose even with missed schedule, health experts say

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 3) — A missed vaccination appointment should not hinder Filipinos from completing their COVID-19 shots, several health experts said on Thursday.

Dr. John Wong, an epidemiology and data analytics expert working with the Inter-Agency Task Force, issued this reminder after revealing that half of Filipinos who have received their first dose missed their second one, therefore failing to complete their vaccination.

"They should still go no matter how long they missed their second dose, they should still go back to get their vaccine as soon as possible. Even if you missed your schedule, getting your second dose does boost your immunity," he told CNN Philippines.

"One dose is not enough. You need two doses so try to get your second dose as soon as possible to enjoy the full benefits of the vaccination," Wong added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured that those who missed their scheduled second dose can still get vaccinated by contacting their LGU to book a new appointment.

"We urge you to coordinate with your LGUs to reschedule your vaccination. Makukuha lang natin ang proteksyon ng mga bakuna laban sa COVID-19 sa kumpletong doses,” he said in a statement.

[Translation: We can only achieve protection from the COVID-19 vaccine if we complete the doses.]

Different data?

Wong reported that over 3 million doses of the Sinovac and Gamaleya vaccines have been administered since the country's vaccination drive started on March 1. He said that about 2.1 million should have gotten their second dose of either the Sinovac or Gamaleya vaccine by now since those two brands require two doses that need to be given about a month apart.

However, the Department of Health said the number presented by Wong during the town hall session were "estimates and based on certain assumptions."

Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said data from the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operation shows that only 9% or roughly 113,000 individuals have deferred their second dose. She said the number continues to go down as local government personnel reach out to the recipients.

DOH said the most common reasons for deferrals are getting sick, getting exposed to someone positive for COVID-19, or undergoing quarantine.

Wong also said that some Filipinos failed to show up for their appointment due to logistical difficulties or the perception that they are already safe from the virus after getting their first shot. The doctor also said some are scared to take the second dose if they experienced side effects during the first one.

The Philippines has administered a total of 5.18 million shots as of June 1, with 1,206,371 people having completed their second dose since the launch of the national program in March. The average daily administered doses is now at 144,000.