MANILA: The Philippines has halved to three months the waiting time for a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine in its battle to rein in the more infectious Omicron variant of coronavirus, which has forced a global tightening of curbs.
The Southeast Asian nation joins Britain, Germany, South Korea and Thailand among a growing list of countries cutting the interval for boosters as they try to stave off a new surge in infections.
From Wednesday (Dec 22), adults can receive a booster dose at least three months after taking the second complement of a two-dose vaccine, versus six months earlier, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said.
Single-dose vaccine recipients are eligible for a booster after two months, he told a regular news conference.
The Philippines has found just three imported cases of Omicron, allowing it maintain looser curbs, as average daily infections have dropped sharply from a September peak of more than 18,500.
Everyone in the Philippines should get vaccinated, wear masks and maintain physical distancing, Nograles said, as these measures had helped limit infections.
The Philippines has fully vaccinated more than 45 million, or 41 per cent of its population, with more than 1 million taking booster doses, Nograles added.
Its vaccination programme received additional World Bank funding, with a new loan of US$300 million, to buy 27 million doses of vaccine.
The loan is key to re-open the economy safely and will help fight emerging variants such as Omicron, Ndiamé Diop, the bank's country director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, said in a statement.