The World Health Organization has advised the national government and local government units to take urgent actions, such a house to house drive to reach unvaccinated individuals, particularly seniors and indigents, as it warns of a possible surge of COVID cases in the country within the next two months, as Filipinos observe Ramadan, Holy Week and engage in election-related activities.
Acting WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rajendra Yadav reminded Filipinos from urban areas who will be visiting the provinces to wear a mask and get COVID booster shots to prepare for, and possibly avoid, a potential surge.
“The best way to protect them is through vaccination because vaccines can lessen the risks of severe disease, hospitalization, or death,” Yadav pointed out.
The WHO advised that national government and LGUs to take urgent actions to reach the unvaccinated, particularly seniors and indigents. As of April 4, almost 66 percent of eligible Filipinos are fully vaccinated, but yet to reach most of vulnerable senior citizens.
Yadav said LGUs need to implement a more targeted approach of closer-to-home and mobile vaccinations to reach these vulnerable individuals. “We cannot continue waiting for them to come to the health facilities,” he stressed.
He also noted the current window of opportunity to protect more Filipinos from the disease might be closing before the next potential wave strikes. Missing this opportunity for community-based vaccinations threatens the hard-earned gains made from two years of pandemic response.
It has been repeated over and over that the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over. The lull we are currently experiencing has given us the opportunity to continue vaccinating as many Filipinos as we can, especially among the most vulnerable. However, based on the plateauing vaccination numbers, it would seem that we are squandering this window of opportunity.
We still have time to act to shore up our defenses against what could be the last few waves of infections. The fragile new normal we are currently enjoying depends on those defenses if it is going to hold up and we are not going to have to start from scratch all over again.
Let’s get to work while we still can.*