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DOH sees downturn in vaccinations as urgency for boosters wanes

COVID-19 vaccinations at local government units (LGUs) around the country slowed the past week, with some people losing the sense of urgency when it booster shots, a Department of Health undersecretary said Saturday.

"Medyo bumagal 'yung ating mga pagbabakuna na past week, hanggang mga 300,000 [individuals] lang tayo maximum, dati one million to 1.5 [million]. Mahirap nang abutin at 'yung ating iba pang segments of population," undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said at the Laging Handa briefing.

(Our vaccinations have slowed down a bit in the past week, we are only reaching a maximum of about 300,000 individuals, compared to the previous one million to 1.5 million individuals. It was difficult to reach other segments of our population.)

Responding to calls by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion to make booster doses mandatory in areas under Alert Level 1, Cabotaje said the government should first push for an information drive regarding boosters.

"Alam natin na ang numero ng pagbabakuna sa mga nakalipas na linggo, mahina lalong lalo ang booster sa iba't ibang kadahilanan. Habang ang hesitancy ay bumaba, walang urgency 'yung pagpapa-booster. Karamihan sapat na ang two dose at 'yung no-vaxx, no entry hanggang two dose," she said.

(We know that the number of vaccinations in the past weeks is slow, especially with boosters, for various reasons. While hesitancy had subsided, there was also a loss of urgency over booster shots. Most people were content with having two doses and the "no-vaccination, no entry" policy.)

On the DOH's part, with the assistance of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and private sector partners, Cabotaje said they would strengthen their communication and advocacy efforts to improve the desire for boosters.

To vaccinate 70% of the provincial population and 85% of the A2 category in the provinces, LGUs were implementing recalibration strategies.

The DOH undersecretary said that experts were studying the recommendation for second boosters. — DVM, GMA News