MANILA – Doctors on Tuesday encouraged Filipinos to get their COVID-19 booster shots amid the rise in new daily COVID cases in the country.
The Philippines last week recorded 10,271 new COVID-19 cases, while the number of severe and critical patients slightly increased, data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed Monday.
Despite this, the percentage of admitted severe and critical cases to the total COVID admissions was still below 9 percent, according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
In a TeleRadyo interview, Dr. Minguita Padilla noted that those admitted in hospitals for severe COVID-19 are those who have not yet received their booster shots.
“Lately, recently daw, marami nang, may mga pumapasok na rin na mga pasyente na nangangailangan na ng oxygen, na yung tinatawag na high-flow nasal cannula,” she said.
(Lately, recently, there have been patients needing oxygen and a high-flow nasal cannula for COVID-19 treatment.)
“So this is again, parang, oops, it’s a sign. May babala na dapat kumilos tayo. So tinanong ko, itong mga pasyente na ‘to, first of all nasa NCR ito. Itong mga pasyenteng ito, anong mga characteristics nila na, itong mga tao na’to that we’re seeing? Lahat daw sila na ganoon ay may mga high-risk patients at, nabakunahan pero walang booster,” she noted.
(So this is like, oops, it's a sign that we should so something, These patients are all from NCR. So I asked, what are the characteristics of these patients? All of them, I was told, were high risk and vaccinated, but did not receive their boosters.)
DOH data showed that not a single region in the country has given boosters to 50 percent of its eligible population.
“So ang advise naming lahat, para hindi mangyari yung bangungot at the time of delta, remember nagkaubusan ng kama, nagkaubusan ng hospital beds, may nangamatay sa mga, hopefully hindi mangyayari ito kasi meron na tayong mga partial immunity, pero magpabooster ho tayo,” Padilla said.
(So our advise is, if we don't want a repeat of the nightmare during the surge caused by the delta variant--remember people running out of hospital beds, dying outside of hospitals--hopefully this won't happen again because we now have mixed immunity, but let us get our booster shots.)
Infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante, meanwhile, said boosters have to be given to people before face mask mandates are lifted.
“We have to incentivize like halimbawa, kung ang mga tao gusto talagang magtanggalan na tayo ng mga face mask, specially sa outdoor, ‘no magiging optional, then we have to encourage everyone to get the booster para at least sa maging kampante tayo na, even magtanggal tayo ng face mask, mataas pa rin ang proteksyon because of the booster,” he said.
(We have to incentivize--for example, if people want to remove face masks outdoors or make that optional, then we have to encourage everyone to get the booster so we can be at ease that even without masks, we are protected because of the booster.)
In a separate TeleRadyo interview, Dr. Gene Nisperos, a faculty member of the UP College of Medicine, said that while it would be difficult to impose mandatory booster vaccination due to legal constraints, widespread booster uptake is imperative in the face of rising infections.
"Gusto talaga natin 'yung malawakang paggamit o pagkuha ng booster kasi nakikita natin nagkakaroon ng mas mataas na proteksiyon ang isang taong nagkakaroon ng booster," Nisperos said.
(We really want an extensive booster vaccination because it increases an individual's protection against the virus.)
Apart from vaccination, he said that other public-health interventions must be strengthened to ward off coronavirus variants.
"Bukod sa bakuna, ano pa ang ginagawa natin? Ang hirap din sabihin na ilagay natin in one basket lahat ng protective measures. Kasi kung nakita natn wala pang bakuna 'yung masking alone... ay malaking tulong. Pangalawa... maganda ba 'yung airflow. Ang proteksiyon natin sapin-sapin bagama't tinutulak natin na magpabakuna ang karamihan," Nisperos said.
(What are we doing aside from vaccination? It's problematic to put all protective measures in one basket. We saw that before vaccines arrived, masking alone helped a lot. Second, is airflow good? Our protective measures are layered as we urge vaccination.)
--TeleRadyo, 12 July 2022