Pandemic fatigue dampens gov't efforts to increase booster uptake

Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2022 03:09 PM

 

A health worker inoculates a homeless person with a COVID-19 booster shot along Scout Santiago Street in Quezon City on September 29, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
A health worker inoculates a homeless person with a COVID-19 booster shot along Scout Santiago Street in Quezon City on September 29, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Department of Health believes the public may have moved on from the pandemic as evidenced by the low booster uptake despite government’s all out efforts to bring them closer to communities. 

Speaking to the media, DOH Officer-In-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire admits pandemic fatigue is now evident. 

“Parang meron na tayong pandemic fatigue kung saan ang mga tao are confident already with the first two doses na meron sila. Apparently nagkaroon na rin sila ng sakit so that boosted their immunity,” she said. 

The Marcos administration’s PinasLakas Campaign was launched to improve the number of fully-vaccinated senior citizens and the number of eligible population with at least one booster dose. But the low uptake has forced the DOH to adjust their targets of boosting 50% of the eligible population down to 30% within the first 100 days of the new administration.

With a little just over a week before October 8, current accomplishments according to Vergeire is 24.8%.

"Pag tinignan natin lahat ng efforts ng local governments natin throughout this week lahat intensive, resources had been used. Lahat ng sectors na mobilize natin. We have these different settings but until now uptake is really slow.”

"We need to really double, triple kung paano pa lahat ng efforts gagawin so that by October 8 we can reach the 30%."

Despite the struggle experienced by government, Vergeire said DOH is still not keen on returning policies that would require the public to be boosted to avail of services or enjoy liberties such as riding public transportation or going to certain establishments. 

"Kelangan pag aralan, what would be the implications if we redefine our fully-vaccinated to the boosters in terms of the opening up of sectors and establishments. Even the President is very hesitant to implement this because it might confuse the public more and also might have a backlash towards the opening of different sectors," she said. 

Nonetheless the health official said the matter will be one of the topics when the Inter-Agency Task Force convenes next week. 

Latest data from the DOH show that 73 million Filipinos are now considered fully-vaccinated but only 19.3 million have gotten the first booster.

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