MANILA — At least three senators on Wednesday urged the government to consider allowing workers in the private sector to get booster shots against COVID-19, saying unused vaccines may go to waste as many Filipinos still refuse to get the jab.
Sen. Sonny Angara, who sponsored the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act, backed the call of business groups to allow private firms to use their "oversupply" of COVID-19 vaccines to give booster shots to their employees.
"We understand that there is still a huge portion of our adult population that remains unvaccinated. We reiterate our call for all Filipinos to get these life-saving vaccines," Angara said in a statement.
"But when we have a situation where vaccines are available and are about to expire, then we should consider the call of the private sector, who are prepared to use them right away," he said.
Providing booster shots to workers can help further boost the economy, Angara said.
"If this will give our workforce greater protection against COVID-19, then this should be considered," he said.
Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III also pushed for the relaxing of the government's vaccination policy.
"Let us already adopt the attitude of 'vaccination of the willing.' Sino may gusto, bakunahan na," said Pimentel, who previously contracted COVID-19.
(Whoever wants a vaccine, give it to them.)
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, also a COVID-19 survivor, also called on government officials to not "waste the vaccines."
"If there is still vaccine hesitancy, then go ahead with the booster shots to A4," he said, referring to the priority group composed of essential workers.
So far, the government has only allowed health workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities to receive COVID-19 booster shots.
The Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday it is finalizing guidelines for providing COVID-19 booster shots for the Philippines' entire adult population.
Last Monday, the Philippines kicked off a 3-day nationwide vaccination drive, eyeing to inoculate at least 9 million people.
At least 5 million people have so far been vaccinated during the first 2 days of the campaign, according to the DOH.