MANILA – A lawmaker on Tuesday said vaccine security must be the government's new priority and the next step in the country's coronavirus disease (Covid-19) response to achieve an Alert Level zero classification.
In a statement, BHW Party-list Angelica Natasha Co said the country should pursue vaccine security with ample stockpiles and local production of all needed vaccines, not just the ones against Covid-19.
The World Health Organization defined vaccine security as the timely, sustained, uninterrupted supply of affordable vaccines of assured quality.
"We also need vaccines for the diseases which affect livestock such as swine, chickens, cattle, fish, seafood. We also need countermeasures against diseases that ravage crops and trees. For these, we need new defenses, institutions, systems, and processes. Vaccine security must be a crucial part of the new normal from now on," Co said.
She said new outbreaks are still possible while new variants and mutations arise, but are no longer likely to reach past high levels.
Alert Level zero, she said, is impossible to achieve under current conditions, unless the government convinces hardcore anti-vaxxers and vax holdouts to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
She also argued that the Alert Level system must be abandoned or the Level zero parameters must be changed because Level zero as it is now unattainable for as long as boosting levels remain low.
"If the anti-vaxxers and holdouts are not swayed in great numbers in the next few months, then the only fallback is to let all hospitals and doctors give the vaccines to those who want them," she said.
She said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should issue full approval to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which have been "clearly proven to be the best" against Covid-19.
The incoming administration may have ways to convince more people to get vaccinated even as the country achieved enough levels of immunity for most of the population, she added.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has enjoined healthcare workers and vaccinators to “stretch their efforts” and help in identifying Filipinos who have yet to get their Covid-19 jabs.
“Yung hinahanap natin yung itong mga vulnerable o kaya ng may mga edad na na hindi nakakalabas at di pa naiineksyunan (What we are looking for are those vulnerable or elderly who cannot leave their homes and have not received their jabs) if we can manage to find them,” he said.
The Philippines has so far inoculated more than 69 million people or 77.2 percent of its target population of 90.005 million, while 14.3 million individuals have received booster shots.
Recent data from the Department of Health showed that a total of 1,295 new infections were logged from May 30 to June 5 with an average of 185 daily cases, 1.4 percent lower than the daily infections logged in the previous week.
Tokyo-based news magazine Nikkei Asia earlier ranked the Philippines at the 33rd spot on its Covid-19 Recovering Index, noting Manila's improving pandemic response. (PNA)