PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd on Wednesday urged the government to approve second booster shots for employees “who are now keeping our economy afloat.”
The Go Negosyo founder made the appeal following the decision of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) to allow the recommendation of Covid-19 booster shots for immunocompromised minors ages 12 to 17.
Concepcion said vaccinations have a high acceptance rate among employees and that the private sector already has its own supply of vaccines.
Moreover, he said that the majority have already taken their first booster shots and may already be in need of second boosters.
Allowing second boosters for this segment will bring many benefits, Concepcion said.
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“We are in the middle of an economic storm and we need to protect people who are now keeping our economy afloat,” he said.
Concepcion added that rising fuel and commodity prices “are threatening the country's economic recovery, along with fears of stagflation.”
He stressed that it is now more important for the economy to remain open and that it cannot risk losing more productive members of the workforce to severe illness.
“We know the vaccines are what give us immunity and the boosters are what we need to maintain that wall of immunity,” Concepcion said. “The argument is not for mandating second boosters for those younger than 60 years old, it's for making it available to those who need them for added protection against Covid.”
At present, second booster shots are only given to health care workers, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals.
Concepcion believed that the HTAC should apply the guidelines already adopted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for second booster shots.
“I don't see any reason the HTAC should not approve boosters for 50-year-olds when the CDC, which is a well-respected body, has already approved it. And those vaccines approved for second boosters are already available here,” he said.
The CDC is the same body that recommended second boosters for ages 12 years and older.
“They already know that it is important even for 50-year-olds to receive extra protection,” Concepcion said.
“Many productive workers fall within this age range of 50 years and older. Though they are now more vulnerable because of their age, they still cannot avail of the second boosters because they're still not 60. Every day they keep our economy running, and every day they might get exposed to Covid. We owe it to them to provide access to better protection,” he added.
The National Vaccine Operations Center reported a little over 70 million individuals have completed their primary doses as of June 21, but only 14.7 million have availed of their first booster shots.
The Department of Health on Monday said the Philippines recorded a total of 3,051 new Covid-19 cases from June 13 to June 19, which is 82 percent higher than cases reported the previous week.
The National Capital Region (NCR) recorded the most cases in the past two weeks with 2,194 infections followed by Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) (659), Western Visayas (375), Central Luzon (324) and Central Visayas (183).
OCTA Research data showed the seven-day average cases in the NCR went up by 72 percent or to 225 for the period of June 14 to 20, compared to 131 a week earlier.
The reproduction rate in the NCR is 2.05, the positivity rate at 4 percent, and the average daily attack rate of 1.5 per 100,000 population.
OCTA had warned that the rise in cases may expand to other parts of the country because the number of Covid-19 cases is increasing in some provinces.
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