Presidential Adviser for Covid-19 Response Vivencio Dizon (File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine government believes that boosting its vaccination program against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) will help the country in managing the new surge with the presence of the Omicron variant, Presidential Adviser for Covid-19 Response Vivencio Dizon said on Monday.

During the Laging Handa briefing, Dizon said the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) will apply the same strategy it did during the Delta variant surge now that the health department sees a significant increase in daily cases.

“But we need to remember that we have been through this. This is already the fourth surge since 2020. We have gone through the Delta surge the past few months, and it was when we are still in the middle of our vaccination,” he said.

Dizon urged unvaccinated Filipinos to get their Covid-19 jabs as new strains of the virus will target those who have not yet received their vaccines.

With the abundant supply of Covid-19 vaccines, Dizon also encouraged vaccinated individuals to get their booster shots.

As the country fell short of its target to vaccinate 54 million Filipinos by the end-2021, the NTF official said this target might be achieved during the first week of January.

He said the onslaught of Typhoon Odette in Visayas and Mindanao in mid-December 2021 has also affected the vaccine rollout of the government.

“Our target is at least 70 million have received their first dose by end-January,” Dizon said.

The NTF also aims to give full Covid-19 jabs to 70 million Filipinos beginning March this year, Dizon added.

The presidential adviser said the government will also start the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years once the country received its vaccine orders from Pfizer, which has a different formulation compared to Covid-19 jabs for adults.

“We are following that up to Pfizer. We are also seeing that even the children exposed in densely populated areas are getting infected by Covid-19,” Dizon said.

Dizon emphasized that while the government is now strengthening its Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDTIR) strategy, he urged Filipinos to strictly follow health protocols such as wearing face masks, sanitizing, and avoiding crowded areas.

He added that the public have violated minimum health standards during parties and get-together events during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

PNP personnel told to get booster shots

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos, on Monday reminded police officers to take their booster shots as long as they are available.

“We continue to educate our PNP personnel regarding the benefits of having their booster jabs. In the same way that we were able to convince them to get their Anti-Covid vaccines, we will still follow such strategy,” Carlos said in a statement.

He said the PNP understands the hesitation of a handful of personnel who do not wish to get vaccinated, but the surge in the daily Covid-19 cases should serve as a lesson for everyone that “there is a pressing need to protect ourselves from the severe effects of the virus.”

The PNP’s 215,801 personnel have been fully vaccinated while 8,775 have received their first dose and some 1,534 remain unvaccinated.

“Police are considered as front-liners in the government's Covid response because their duty puts them in direct interaction with people while securing the peace and order in every community. We don’t want to have sick law enforcers for it can affect their performance,” Carlos said.

As of Monday, the PNP’s active Covid-19 cases have also climbed to 57 after recording eight new infections.

The police force also logged three new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 42,110, while the death toll still stands at 125. (with reports from Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan/PNA)