A former undersecretary of the Department of Health who now serves as advisor to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 yesterday stressed that the government could ease the COVID-19 restrictions, by scrapping the need for face masks and face shields, after 49 to 50 million Filipinos have been inoculated.
Dr. Ted Herbosa issued the advice in response to queries on when can the country lift the COVID-19 restrictions given that the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program is already on its fifth month.
“We can remove face mask and face shield if we have already vaccinated between 49 to 50 million. Magtiis muna tayo na magsuot ng face mask, face shield, maghugas ng kamay at umiwas sa matataong lugar,” he said.
Herbosa added that of the 12 million Filipinos who already got at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, only three million of them have completed two doses so far.
He lamented that the government is battling strong vaccine hesitancy among senior citizens which are the second most vulnerable to the virus next to health workers. Only 29% of senior citizens already got vaccinated.
“Vaccine hesitancy is high among them, they argue that they are already old and such vaccine should be given to the younger ones. But this is wrong. It is the elderly who really needs to be vaccinated before the young because if they get infected, they can be hospitalized, placed in intensive care unit and may die. That is why we are appealing to them to get vaccinated so they will be protected,” the former DOH official added.
The government has already tasked local government units to prioritize giving second doses due to delayed delivery of COVID-19 vaccine supply.
But even before such directive was made, a number of LGUs in National Capital Region such as Parañaque, Muntinlupa and Taguig had to temporarily suspend the vaccination program due to lack of supply.