SOME lawmakers are appealing to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to consider giving medical frontliners boosters against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Former Speaker and Taguig City Representative Alan Peter Cayetano said additional shots should be given to frontline health workers as well as to immunocompromised individuals because of their high risk of exposure and distinct vulnerability to the novel coronavirus.
Earlier, Malacañang said it has allocated P45 billion for COVID-19 booster/additional shots in the 2022 national budget and as the government’s Vaccine Expert Panel says such doses should be administered only when the country has vaccinated 70 percent of the population.
However, only 11.7 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated while 14.8 percent are partly inoculated.
Cayetano and his allies in the House sent a letter to the IATF on August 20 urging it to provide additional protection to the most vulnerable and to those who are fighting the pandemic amid the rising number of infections due to the emerging strains such as the Delta variant.
“This is aligned with recent pronouncements and recommendations made by health authorities in a growing number of countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Israel, France, Germany, China, Russia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Singapore who are set to implement or are already implementing the same.,” they said.
Signing the letter with Cayetano were Taguig Rep. Maria Laarni Cayetano, ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Rep. Michael Defensor, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund “Lray” Villafuerte, Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez, Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, and Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio “Kuya” Sy-Alvarado.
The group said workers in frontline health services must be offered vaccine booster shots since they are constantly exposed to the virus while they perform their duties.
“Providing them with additional protection will allow them to continue taking care of Filipinos who require medical attention from COVID and non-COVID diseases and shield us from a possible collapse of the healthcare system,” they said.
The group noted that it has been almost six months since the country’s frontline health workers received their vaccines in March 2021.
“In a study conducted by Chinese researchers, antibodies triggered by Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac, which has been the most widely used COVID-19 vaccine brand in the Philippines, declined below a key threshold from around six months after a second dose for most recipients, but a third shot had a strong booster effect,” they said.
They said even the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “has recognized that many vaccines are associated with a reduction in protection over time, and… that additional vaccine doses could be needed to provide long lasting protection.”