Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies in Congress on Monday filed a resolution strongly urging the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to provide booster/additional shots to health care workers and the immunocompromised.
This as the Philippines reported a record-high 26,303 daily positive cases of COVID-19 on September 11, 2021, with the surge attributed to the highly transmissible Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.
Other signatories of the House Joint Resolution No. 40 were Taguig 2nd District Rep. Maria Laarni Cayetano, ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Rep. Michael Defensor, Laguna 1st District Rep. Dan Fernandez, Batangas 2nd District Rep. Raneo Abu, and Bulacan 1st District Rep. Jose Antonio “Kuya” Sy-Alvarado.
“Nearly two years into the pandemic, the Philippines has struggled to vaccinate more than a small fraction of its population due to shortages in supply,” the resolution reads.
Providing extra protection to those who are most vulnerable due to their line of duty of physical compromise is a “moral imperative and a practical necessity to prevent the collapse of our healthcare system,” it adds.
“It is vital to protect our healthcare workers, so that they may, in turn, take care of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. With hundreds of hospitals in the country nearing full capacity and our healthcare workers having to attend to more patients and extending working hours as a result of recent rise in positive cases, we cannot afford a further shortage of our health manpower as a result of our healthcare workers being infected with the virus,” the resolution reads.
According to the resolution, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that 23,611 Filipino healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus as of the end of August.
“Despite government programs inoculating frontline healthcare workers as early as six months ago in March 2021, immunity for health workers has not been achieved,” it adds.
The resolution also cites a study conducted by Chinese researchers on the antibody prevalence in those vaccinated with Sinovac, the most widely used COVID-19 vaccine brand in the Philippines, “which found that effectivity declines below a key threshold around six months following the second dose.”
On August 19, 2021, Malacañang confirmed in a televised briefing that P45 billion in the 2022 national budget has been allocated to booster or additional shots.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also noted in a Laging Handa public briefing on September 4, 2021 that the DOH’s Vaccine Experts Panel (VEP) “verbalized that booster shots can be administered to medical workers and immunocompromised individuals.”
Cayetano and his allies had previously penned a letter to the IATF dated August 20, 2021 in which they urged the task force to provide additional protection to the country’s most vulnerable and those who are fighting the frontlines of the pandemic in hospitals and health centers.