Pinoys urged: Get vaccinated amid Omicron variant threat

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2021 09:40 AM

Medical staff of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City prepares the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to be administered to hospital workers on Nov. 17, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File
Medical staff of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City prepares the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to be administered to hospital workers on Nov. 17, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA—A public health expert on Monday urged more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 amid growing concerns about the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

While information on Omicron is limited, Dr. Eva Dela Paz, director of Philippine Genome Center, said the country must take every precaution to combat the new variant.

"Ang pinakaimportante pa rin ay magpabakuna po lahat ng ating mga kababayan," she told TeleRadyo.

(It's still important that our fellow Filipinos get vaccinated.)

"Itong Omicron eh reminder po 'yan na no one is safe until everyone is safe," she added.

According to scientists, the new COVID-19 variant, which was first detected in South Africa, has a "very unusual constellation" of mutations.

The World Health Organization has said preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron.

This means people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with the variant compared to other variants of concern.

However, it is not yet clear if Omicron is more transmissible compared to other SARS-CoV-2 variants or if it causes more severe disease, the WHO added.

In the Philippines, more than 35.5 million people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or 46.10 percent of the government's target by year-end.

Over 45.2 million have received the first shot while 174,536 people have gotten the booster dose, government data as of Nov. 27 show.

Dela Paz also called on the public to adhere to health protocols.

"Patuloy tayong mag-mask, magkaroon ng physical distancing at saka stay in well-ventilated areas," she said.

(Let's continue wearing mask, observe physical distancing and stay in well-ventilated areas.)

She also agreed with the government's decision to shut its borders to some countries with reported cases of Omicron.

"Travel bans actually may buy us some time to figure out how to deal with the new variant," she said.

Should the country bring back the mandatory use of face shields, Dela Paz said "any layer of protection is always good".

As the Omicron has spread to some parts of the world, she said the entry of the new variant in the Philippines is inevitable.

"Alam na po natin ang storya katulad ng Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, makakarating po 'yang mga variants na 'yan sa atin," she said.

(We all the story of Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, these variants will reach our country.)

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