Make COVID-19 booster shot mandatory, says infectious disease expert

‘Not safe yet’ to lift mask rule, outdoor areas not free from risk, says expert

Infectious Disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante  (Screengrab from PCOO / Facebook)

MANILA, Philippines — The COVID-19 vaccine booster dose should now be made mandatory to boost the protection of more Filipinos amid the rising number of infections, an infectious disease expert said Monday.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, a member of the Department of Health (DOH) technical advisory group, said the Philippines’ uptake of booster shots is low compared to neighboring countries like Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, which have reached the 50% mark.

The Philippines so far has only reached 20% of its target population. 

“Ang uptake ng booster natin is talagang mababa so I think it’s high time that we need to mandate the booster vaccination to the general population,” Solante said in a public briefing.

(Our booster uptake is very low, so I think it’s high time we must mandate the booster vaccination to the general population.)

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo)

Solante said another reason to mandate booster shots is the upcoming opening of face-to-face classes, which is eyed in November, as well as the opening of the workplace.

“Kailangan mandatory na siguro para lang ma-increase natin ang protection, especially now we are preparing for the face-to-face classes in November and workplaces are also open now,” he said.

Solante said he thinks the  “weak surge” of infections predicted by independent monitor OCTA Research Group is “starting now,” given the current spikes in COVID-19 positivity rates.

“I think this is starting now. ‘Yung positivity rate, ‘yung mga newly infected individuals based on that positivity rate ay nag-umpisa nang tumaas,” he said.

(The positivity rate, the number of infected individuals, is increasing.)

The COVID-19 positivity rate in Metro Manila is at 10.9% as of July 9, according to OCTA ResearchMeanwhile, the DOH said the current COVID-19 positivity rate nationwide is at 6.8%