Mandatory booster shots vs COVID pushed
MANILA, Philippines — It is “high time” that the country’s general population be required to get COVID-19 booster shots for added protection as more workplaces open and in-person classes resume, infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said during Monday’s Laging Handa briefing.
Solante, a member of the Department of Health’s (DOH) technical advisory group and an adviser to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), made the call for a booster mandate in the wake of the ongoing “weak surge” in infections and the higher positivity rates noted in recent weeks.
The DOH on Monday said the average daily new coronavirus cases last week surged by 39 percent to 1,467 from 1,057 the previous week.
The DOH pointed out that of the 10,271 confirmed new cases last week, 27 were in severe or critical condition. COVID-19 admissions also slightly increased but remained at low levels, it added.
“The uptake of our booster shots is really low. So I think it’s high time that we mandate booster vaccination for the general population. It has to be mandatory so that we can increase protection, especially now that we are preparing for face-to-face classes and workplaces are also open now,” Solante said.
He noted that the number of Filipinos who received booster shots was less than 20 percent of the target population.
Data from the DOH showed that only 15.18 million Filipinos have received booster shots, while 71.04 million have completed their primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In comparison, the Philippines’ neighbors such as Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand were able to administer booster shots to half of their target population, Solante said.
The health expert also noted the possibility of administering COVID-19 vaccinations on a regular basis to address emerging variants of concern in the future.
“We know that the COVID-19 virus mutates and changes shape to the point that the vaccines used in the primary series have lower protection now. There is a possibility that with the next few months remaining, moving forward, we cannot control this because of the possibility of new, more variants of concern that would lower the efficacy of the vaccines,” Solante said.
“That’s one of the things we’re looking at, that there’s a possibility that vaccinations will be regular—whether it’s three months, four months or six months. It depends on the studies on what vaccines should be given regularly, and depending on the prevailing, dominant variants in that particular year,” he added.ADVERTISEMENT