MEDICAL experts backed the proposal of Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd to issue vaccination booster cards as a way to prevent a Covid surge after the elections.
Concepcion has urged the government to push for booster vaccinations because around 27 million vaccine doses worth more than P100 billion are expiring in July.
In a forum on Thursday, Philippine College of Physicians President Dr. Maria Encarnita Limpin said a separate card for boosters will make the differentiation between the primary series and the booster shot clear.
“I think maganda na klaro na ang mga tao na may primary vaccination nila and then may booster shots sila kasi ang separate na vaccine card (I think it is good that people should have a primary vaccination series and then a booster shot because a separate card) for the booster emphasizes the importance of getting the booster shots,” Limpin said.
She said the booster shot cards will also make it easier for individuals to get booster shots for other diseases such as influenza and tetanus.
Dr. Nina Gloriani, chairman of the Vaccine Experts Panel, agreed with Limpin, saying that vaccine cards should have a validity of at least one year to force the fully vaccinated to update their vaccination status with a booster dose.
“Kung may expiration ang bakuna, may expiration din ang vaccine cards. Hindi rin pwede na sobra na siyang luma…. Kumbaga nagrerenew tayo [ng lisensya], kailangan may ganun po, Wala pong forever sa bakuna (If there is an expiration date for the vaccines, there is also an expiration for vaccine cards. It should not be that extremely old…. It is like we are renewing [a license], there is no forever in vaccines), ” Gloriani said.
She said an up-to-date vaccination status is now a requirement in some countries for international travel.
Gloriani said the protection from the primary series of vaccines wanes within three to six months after the second dose.
“Third, or booster doses, restore protection especially amid the severe form and the variants of concern,” she said.
The country has boosted around 12 million individuals, or at the rate of 10.58 doses per 100 people, one of the lowest booster rates in Asia, Gloriani said.
OCTA Senior Research Fellow Dr. Guido David said that if the number of boosted individuals remains low, a resurgence of cases could happen within this month or May, especially with the reported presence of a new recombinant variant called Omicron XE.
“That is why it is important to continue the vaccinations and boosters,” David said.
Concepcion said that if the country waits longer before administering boosters, the economic consequences will be “huge” and the country's debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio could rise past “comfortable” levels.
“If we get hit with a surge in June, which is one of the strongest months for the economy when schooling generates a lot of activity, employees have come back to the office, and there is more mobility, if we don't take the booster shots, then that wall of immunity will weaken or even collapse and we will have to go back to those days that we have Alert Level 3 or Alert Level 4,” the Go Negosyo founder added.
He warned that the country could go into “stagflation,” a situation where people cannot afford to buy goods due to high prices, if people do not get their booster doses and a Covid-19 surge occurs.
“Waning immunity means a waning economy. It's simply something we cannot afford,” Concepcion said.
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