Number of Filipinos with COVID-19 booster shots ‘quite anemic’ – Duque
MANILA, Philippines — The number of Filipinos with booster shots against COVID-19 is “quite anemic,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III lamented on Monday.
“It’s quite anemic. We’ve done everything that we could and we continue to innovate,” Duque said in an ANC interview.
This, as he pointed to the government’s efforts to make vaccination available in pharmacies, in medical clinics as well as public transport terminals in order to improve the access of COVID-19 jabs to Filipinos.
He then called on the public to get their booster shots, saying this is the “best time” to do so.
“This is the best time to have their booster shots. Maluwag ang mga vaccination centers, not when there’s a surge. I tell you, if there’s going to be a surge, mahihirapan na naman. Magsisiksikan muli ang mga tao, mahaba ang pila. Samantalang ngayon maluwag,” Duque said.
(This is the best time to have their booster shots. The vaccination centers are not crowded, unlike when there is a surge. I tell you, if there’s going to be a surge, it will again be a challenge, people will form crowds, lines will get long, unlike now.)
“So ngayon na po natin samantalahin ang maluwag na bakunahan at wag po natin waldasin ang pagkakataong ito. Libre ang bakuna, epektibo, dekalidad, ligtas. Katawan niyo na lang po ang dadalhin ninyo..hindi niyo makakalimutan iyon,” he added.
(Now, we should take advantage of this and we should not waste this opportunity. The vaccine is free, it’s effective, it’s good quality, it’s safe. You only need to bring yourself…you will not forget that.)
In the Philippines, those who have completed their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines are eligible to receive the first booster shot.
The Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, announced that the elderly and health frontliners may now avail of their second COVID-19 booster shots.
Duque once again said he is in favor of making booster shots mandatory. He also agrees that there should be a redefinition of full vaccination to include one booster shot.
He added that he will reintroduce the concept to the IATF for a consensus on the matter as some members are still wary of making such changes.
“I will be the first person to tell you, I agree with that. But the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is not just made up of the DOH but there are also others, plus the economic team, who frown upon or do not agree at this point,” the health chief said.
“Of course they want the boosters ramped up but it cannot be a de facto mandatory booster na ‘no booster, no transport ‘ or ‘no booster, no full capacity in the establishment.’ We’re still grappling with this one but hopefully, we are getting more and more evidence and other countries, around 6 na nga—although kakaunti pa lang [although that’s still few]—who have redefined the meaning of full vaccination to include one booster dose,” he added.
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