Wed, 10 Aug 2022

MANILA -- President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has agreed to the proposal of requiring Filipinos to get a first booster dose in a bid to fight the spread of Omicron subvariants in the country.

The move was also in preparation for the impending full implementation of face-to-face classes this year.

This emerged during the meeting of President Marcos with the officials of the Department of Health (DOH) together with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and PhilHealth in Malacanang on Wednesday, July 6.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the term "fully vaccinated" should be redefined to encourage people to get a booster shot.

"So currently, Mr. President, our definition of fully vaccinated only includes the primary series: the first and the second dose. So we are recommending that we can expand that it includes also the booster doses so that we can encourage more of our Filipinos to have their boosters," she said.

President Marcos agreed to this underscoring the need to increase the protection of the population against the Omicron subvariants, especially the students in anticipation of their gradual return to schools this September.

"This is going to be very important lalo na in preparation for school in the coming semester. Ang plano ni VP (Vice President) Sara (Duterte-Carpio) to phase in already complete face-to-face. So sana ma-vaccinate," he said.

As vaccine hesitancy remains to be an issue, the President directed the DOH to enhance their information campaign and extensively explain to the people the importance of having a booster shot.

"We have to explain. The best explanation we can have is that for the Alpha and the following strains, the vaccine was two shots and it was sufficient for good immunity but still not full immunity," he explained.

"But now for Omicron, you have to get the booster because it is slightly different. The vaccines that we are using were designed for Alpha, and even Delta medyo not as effective," Marcos said adding that the coronavirus continues to mutate.

Vergeire said there is a need to mobilize the local governments through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the employers through Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Civil Service Commission, and the schools through the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education (DepEd) to ramp up the vaccinations for the primary series and the first booster shot from July up to September.

The President then instructed the DOH to increase the administration of booster shots by October before the planned full implementation of face-to-face classes in November. (PND)

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