MANILA – An infectious disease expert warned the public against what he called "vaccine complacency" and urged Filipinos to get COVID-19 booster shots.
Many Filipinos have yet to receive their booster shots, said Rontgene Solante, a member of the government's vaccine expert panel.
He said the slow momentum in the government's booster program is rooted in the view that new infections are just mild.
"Ang nakikita natin dito, dahil mas mild na lang ang mga sintomas at di napupuno 'yung mga hospital so mayroon tayong tinatawag na vaccine complacency. But that should not be our attitude," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, emphasizing that immunity from vaccines dwindles over time.
Data show that protection against the severe form of COVID-19 derived from booster shots lasts about 8 to 10 months, Solante said.
"So ang important ngayon for the general population [to] receive the first booster," he added.
A second booster shot can now be offered to the general population for added protection.
At present, health department guidelines say that only health workers, the elderly, and the immunocompromised are allowed to get a second coronavirus booster shot.
"In the absence of a variant-specific booster at kung kaya naman ng bansa natin, kung mayroon namang extrang bakuna, then why not for those who really want to get the vaccine?" Solante said when asked if he approves of the proposal to open the second booster shots for the general population.
Maria Rosario Vergeire, the health department's officer-in-charge, earlier told local government units that defying its guidelines on second booster shots would be more disadvantageous to their constituents.
“Kailangan kung ano 'yung binigay as guidelines, 'yun ang sundin natin. Unang-una because may science kung bakit tayo nagrerekomenda o hindi nagrerekomenda ng specific sectors para sa specific na bakuna,” she said.
—TeleRadyo, July 16, 2022