Concepcion, Abalos Adopt "ISA PA" As Rallying Cry For Raising Booster Rates
July 18, 2022
“Kailangan ng isa pa. Isa pa para sa mga pamilya, isa pa para sa komunidad,” said Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Benhur Abalos as he agreed with the importance of raising booster vaccination rates in a private sector-initiated proposal for the country’s post-pandemic transition strategy.
The DILG Secretary’s statement inspired Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion to adopt “ISA PA” as the rallying cry for renewed efforts to push booster vaccination among Filipinos. “Complacency is really the problem. There is no sense of urgency because people don’t see what might happen if our wall of immunity starts to weaken,” he said. Concepcion explained that re-infections are quite possible, and that cases of long Covid have grave consequences on productivity, and ultimately, the economy.
“We need to convince people that they need boosters,” Sec. Abalos said as he noted the public’s continuing hesitation to take their booster shots. “The messaging is important. We need to tell them that boosters have become urgent with the start of in-person classes now only weeks away,” he said.
The DILG Secretary met recently with Concepcion and members of the Advisory Council of Experts (ACE), a group of medical doctors, scientists and academics comprising the country’s foremost authorities on public health, molecular biology, disaster resilience, data insight and analysis, and economics. ACE’s proposal outlined parameters to ease the country into normalcy and encourage economic activity without risking the public’s health. The group was convened by Concepcion, who is also Vice Chair of the MSME Development Council. The proposal has been met with approval from the private sector, including several industry groups and businessmen.
Sec. Abalos expressed optimism as the proposal was an initiative of the private sector, and that it puts emphasis on the importance of achieving high booster vaccination rates.
ACE’s proposal emphasizes that 70 percent of the eligible population must have received their booster vaccinations in order to safely implement the plan. It also proposes an easy-to-understand alert level system based on the red-yellow-green traffic light signal, a framework similar to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s color-coded system. It reduces the metrics used to raise or lower alert levels to only two: healthcare utilization rates (HCUR) and average daily attack rate (ADAR), or the number of infections per hundred thousand population.
Moreover, it defines resulting activity restrictions based on their regional applicability, and incentivizes regions with good pandemic status with relaxed rules on the wearing of face masks. The proposal also plots the way forward with Covid vaccines, as it lays down a plan to address the inventory and accessibility of Covid vaccines by recommending that the vaccines be granted a Certificate of Product Registration.
ACE pointed out that the new system ensures transparency in government decision-making, and empowers people and local governments to take charge of their own community’s health. “This was the result of cooperation and consultation between the experts and the private sector, a real effort at protecting both lives and livelihoods where we went and listened to what stakeholders had to say,” said Concepcion,
For his part, Sec. Abalos said that it is important to seek solutions that involve the community, and took note of how the private sector has become a partner in efforts to help the government in the country’s recovery from the pandemic.
Sec. Abalos said he will endorse the presentation of the proposals to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and will organize a meeting with the Department of Health to initiate more vaccinations at the community level.