MANILA—A presidential adviser on Thursday proposed making COVID-19 booster cards a requirement to enter establishments in Metro Manila.
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion noted that as the vaccination rate in the capital region was high, adding this requirement will be another way to move forward amid the pandemic.
"We have to plan for this. In other words, we want to make sure that people are still protected with the vaccines," he told ANC's "Rundown".
"At a certain point in time, depending on when you take it, it will definitely wane and you maybe unprotected."
Government data as of Feb. 1 showed that 7.5 million people in the country had received their booster dose. Of the figure, 2.1 million were administered in the National Capital Region.
Concepcion said the proposal could be implemented in Metro Manila "in a month or two". He said the requirement to show proof of COVID-19 booster shot is being implemented in other countries, including the US.
"We give it time for NCR. For the rest of the provinces, let the LGUs (local government units) decide when they will request the booster cards be shown as an entry," he said.
"Not all will implement this nationwide because many areas are still in their first and second dose of vaccination."
However, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana argued it would be "difficult" to require booster cards in Metro Manila.
"Masyadong maraming tao ang hindi pa natin nabu-boost, and of course, we want to make sure the focus remains on the people na hindi pa nababakunahan," reasoned Salvana, a member of the Department of Health technical advisory group.
(We have yet to boost too many people, and of course, we want to make sure the focus remains on the people who are not yet vaccinated.)
He added that if the country is to eventually shift to an "endemic mindset," the public will no longer be required to present vaccine cards.
"Rather than nagdadagdag tayo ng restrictions, mababawasan actually talaga siya dahil number one, meron na nga tayong bakuna at meron na tayong gamot," Salvana said in a televised public briefing.
"At number two, dahil iyong population rin, ‘pag nagkaroon ng outbreak, kung karamihan sa kanila ay bakunado, iyong impact nito on our healthcare system is manageable," he continued.
(Rather than adding restrictions, these will be reduced because number one, we already have vaccines and drugs. And number 2, if most of the population is vaccinated, even if there is an outbreak, the impact on our healthcare system is manageable.)
Authorities earlier described the "endemic phase" as a time when the public learns to live with the virus.
To date, more than 59 million people in the country are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This represents 65.69 percent of the government's target of inoculating 90 million people by June 30, 2022.