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Philippines earmarks US$899 million for COVID-19 booster shots

Philippines earmarks US$899 million for COVID-19 booster shots

FILE PHOTO: A government worker assists people queueing to get Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in school turned vaccination site that operates 24/7, in Manila, Philippines, on Aug 9, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

MANILA: The Philippines is allotting 45.3 billion pesos (US$899 million) for COVID-19 booster shots under its 2022 budget, an official said, even as health authorities have yet to conclude there is a need for a third dose.

"We have a budget entry for a booster shot for all Filipinos," presidential spokesman Harry Roque told a regular news conference.

It is unclear how many doses of vaccine the budget can cover, but the Philippines has approved the emergency use of eight brands, including those of Pfizer and partner BioNTech and Moderna, which the United States will start offering as boosters in September.

In recent weeks, Israel, France and Germany have decided to offer booster shots to older adults and people with weak immune systems.

The Philippines, which is battling one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia, has fully vaccinated nearly 13 million people, or 11.7 per cent of the total population of 110 million.

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Source: Reuters/ga