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Hastening booster vaccinations among Filipinos will not slow business activity but will instead benefit the country in the long term and in many ways, said Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.
“Hastening booster vaccinations will prolong the time that we will enjoy more mobility. Boosters strengthen our wall of immunity, making it possible for us to withstand future surges in cases,” he said. He added that increased booster vaccinations will prevent the country from losing millions of dollars from the expiry by July this year of the 27 million vaccines in has in stock.
This comes as concerns were raised about the possible effects on business of replacing current vaccination cards with booster cards as requirement for entry into spaces and activities that put people at risk of being infected with Covid. The booster card proposal has received support from the country’s leading business organizations as well as medical experts.
“We are the last people to want business activity to slow down. What we don’t want is for business to stop completely because we failed to act,” Concepcion said. “This is why we are proposing that people be given enough time to get their booster shots. It will not happen all at the same time because people completed their primary vaccinations at different times,” he said.
“What booster vaccinations will do is quite the opposite: it will allow us to sustain our gains and extend our mobility because those with waning immunity will be updating their vaccinations as we wait for the provinces to catch up with their primary vaccinations.”
The Go Negosyo founder had earlier sounded the alarm on waning antibodies as booster takeup remains low. As of March 30, only a little over 12 million Filipinos have received their booster shots despite 65.8 million having been fully vaccinated. Waning antibodies might also increase cases and send the country back into lockdowns.
Concepcion had put forward specific measures to increase booster vaccinations, including: the redefinition of “fully vaccinated” status to include a booster dose; booster card requirements for travel, work, and overall movement in lieu of the vaccination card; a 60-day deadline, or around until June this year, to get booster shots; and the proposed use of booster cards in VAXCERTPH as proof of vaccination to address current backlogs and prevent proliferation of fake documents and vaccination cards.
“We might not even need a mandate to implement this if we do it in phases,” said Concepcion. He said that it will become similar with IATF restrictions in which only those with booster cards or vaccination cards that are up to date will be allowed to enter enclosed spaces or engage in high-risk activity.
“We are doing the long game here. We need to have enough people who are immune to the virus while we wait for everyone to catch up. We don’t want to leave people out or leave anyone behind,” he said.