70% of population must get boosters before health protocols can be eased: expert
The national government should aim to have 70 percent of the country’s population boostered to be able to loosen the COVID-19 safety protocols, an infectious diseases expert said Sunday.
“Our goal is that 70 percent of the population should be boostered, that’s when we see we can relax the health protocols, especially the mask that won’t be needed outdoors, except for indoors. We can also increase the mobility of the people, as long as 70 percent of the population is boostered,” Rontgene Solante said in a radio interview with dzBB.
“The Philippines is one of those (countries) with the lowest (booster uptake). Only 15 percent have received their booster shots,” he added.
The Department of Health (DOH) said in its website that 15, 181, 789 of the eligible population have received their booster shots while those who have gotten the primary dose reached 71, 028, 733.
A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine given after the primary dose to boost the immune system.
He also underscored the importance of getting a booster shot as protection against the variants of COVID-19.
“One of the things we should communicate is that the primary vaccine series is only for the previous variants of concern. But with this new variant of concern, your primary vaccine series won’t be effective. You need to be given a booster so that you can be protected, even a little against the variant of concern,” he said.
Solante said they have been pushing for redefining the fully vaccinated status to include the booster shot and are urging President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to make it his target in the next 100 days.
“At this point in time, it’s been months, we are still experiencing spike and surge. We need to be strict with this. And hopefully, moving forward, in the next 100 days, I hope this would be one of the targets of Bongbong Marcos, Jr.,” he said.
Solante predicts that there would be no end to the COVID-19 pandemic “because of its ability to mutate” and that it would be considered part of normal life.
He said as part of normal life, people may have to take regular yearly vaccinations against the virus, especially since it has a seasonal pattern like the influenza virus.
“In fact, we have incoming vaccines from countries that are making the Omicron variant booster vaccinations. The other countries are preparing it so that during fall or during winter, they will be able to use it because COVID also has seasonality. During rainy and cold seasons, cases are expected to rise. Just like an influenza virus. We see a pattern of seasonality,” Solante said. Jaspearl Tan/DMS