As of 11 July 2022
What is the HTAC recommendation?
On June 14, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the adolescent population ages 12 to 17 years. Thereafter, the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) evaluated this vaccine for inclusion in the COVID-19 National Vaccination Deployment Plan (NVDP) as aligned with the priorities of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau (DPCB) and the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC).
On June 21, the Secretary of Health approved the recommendation of the HTAC to use Pfizer-BioNTech as a booster vaccine among the adolescent population ages 12 to 17 years.
This means that Pfizer-BioNTech can now be included in the DOH COVID-19 National Vaccination Deployment Plan (NVDP) for the following:
Adolescent population (12 to 17 years old)
Interval after receiving the first two doses of COVID-19 vaccines
At least 28 days after the second dose of the primary series (using Pfizer-BioNTech) (as third dose of the primary series)
2. Immunocompetent (healthy individuals with normal ability to fight infection)
At least five (5) months after the second dose of the primary series (regardless of the previously used brand) (as booster dose to the primary series)
While the NVOC implements the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines, the HTAC emphasizes the need to vaccinate those who are not yet vaccinated. The HTAC also highlights the importance of giving first booster doses, especially among the priority groups A1 to A3 (i.e., healthcare workers, senior citizens, persons with comorbidities) versus giving second booster doses to the general population since this will have greater impact in preventing infection, hospitalization, and deaths.
Consequently, a higher vaccination coverage among the priority groups will aid in preserving the health system, and keeping the economy open.
What is the basis of the HTAC recommendation?
In its review, the HTAC based its recommendation on evidence on effectiveness and safety, as well as the social, ethical, financial, and implementation issues from the booster vaccination of the adolescent population. Furthermore, the HTAC also reviewed specific recommendations from the WHO, US FDA, US CDC, UK JCVI, EMA, EU CDC, Chile MOH, and Hong Kong DOH. The evidence shows that giving booster doses to adolescents strengthens protection against the virus, including its new variants. The benefits of preventing potentially serious consequences of infection far outweigh the risks of booster vaccination.
What is the process when HTAC makes recommendations?
The HTAC follows a rigorous process of assessing and validating evidence from published studies and from the assessment reports of other agencies. In particular, data from the DOH and recommendations from the WHO are often adapted after careful consideration. More than providing a simple positive or negative recommendation, this rigorous process considers the limits of the evidence themselves; the process helps ensure that Filipinos use health technologies with the least risk and the most benefits based on the data.
What is the role of HTAC in the roll out of vaccines?
For any COVID-19 vaccine dose to be rolled out by the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center, the following must be satisfied:
- An EUA from the Philippine FDA
- Phase III clinical trials and a WHO recommendation
- A positive recommendation from the HTAC
As the evidence evolves, the HTAC will continue to revise its recommendations. Its decision-making process is based on scientific data, and therefore undergoes thorough deliberation. The HTAC is one with the DOH in carrying out the NVDP successfully.
*HTAC Definition of Immunocompromised Population (ICP)
- Individuals who have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Individuals who had received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Individuals who received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Individuals with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Individuals with advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Individuals with active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress immune response
- Individuals on chronic dialysis
- People living with autoimmune disease, and treatment with specific immunosuppressive medications
- Individuals diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise as advised by the physician (e.g., severe malnutrition)
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