Plans are being made to give the third shot of COVID-19 vaccine to those who are immunocompromised, reported Gaafar Ucherbelau, Assistant Liaison Officer for the MHHS COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Operation, during this week’s press conference.

With recent guidance issued by US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) recommending booster shots for immunocompromised (people with underlying conditions), Palau Ministry of Health is looking at the 2,700 people with underlying conditions and identifying those that meet the criteria for immunocompromised to give the 3rd dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

People that have moderate to severe immunocompromised system may not build the same level of immunity to COVID-19 after the second dose compared to people who are not immunocompromised and CDC recommends they receive additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Eligibility criteria for the 3rd dose include people that have been receiving active cancer treatment, have received an organ transplant and taking medicines to suppress the immune system, received stem cell transplant, advance or untreated HIV infection, active treatment with high-dose of corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system and others.

Once Ministry of Health identifies those that meet the criteria, they will open the 3rd vaccination shot for the immunocompromised.

Meanwhile, Palau is allowing Taiwanese travelers coming to Palau through the Taiwan-Palau Travel Bubble to avail of the excess COVID-19 vaccines that are set to expire this September.  So far, 120 passengers from last week’s China Airline flight received jabs right after they arrived.  They were taken directly from the airport to Palau National Gym for their shots.  This Wednesday, another flight brought in another group which also went directly to receive their covid-19 vaccine shots.

According President Surangel Whipps Jr., the vaccines are free and tourists pay only $50 for the vaccination service.  “These were donated to us and therefore we are donating to our friend and ally Taiwan.”  Palau had earlier donated 1,000 doses of vaccines that were also about to expire to the State of Yap, FSM.

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