Urgent call for booster shots

Published November 25, 2021, 5:37 AM

by J. Albert Gamboa

The Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) has joined 25 other business organizations in calling for booster shots to protect the nation’s workforce from COVID-19. In a joint statement signed by FINEX last Nov. 23, the captains of industry strongly urged the national government to allow the use of vaccines as booster shots for private sector employees and their families.

Here is the complete manifesto: “The undersigned organizations strongly urge the government to allow the private sector to use its COVID vaccines for booster shots to protect their employees and their families. The high vaccination rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) and surrounding provinces and the increasing vaccination rate in the rest of the country have resulted in a dramatic decline in cases, healthcare usage, and other indicators.

 “This has allowed us to reopen our businesses and restart the economy. But studies show that COVID vaccine efficacy wanes beyond six months, and without boosters we increase the risk of another surge which could again shut down the economy. We fully understand the need to prioritize certain sectors when vaccines are scarce, but the government has announced that its stockpile of vaccines has now reached close to 60 million and continues to increase, as the vaccines are arriving faster than they can be dispensed.

 “We no longer have a shortage, and with such a large stockpile, we risk having vaccines expire and go to waste. The private sector purchased the vaccines to help the government vaccinate as many as possible as soon as possible. We have been ready to do so even as the government imposed priorities when supply was scarce.

 “With the oversupply, the private sector asks the government to allow it to use these vaccines to take care of their employees and dependents as their contribution to accelerating national vaccination. We thus enjoin the government to immediately allow the private sector to use its vaccines.”

Aside from FINEX, the other signatories are: ACI Philippines, Association of CPAs in Public Practice, Canadian Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Cebu Business Club, Cebu Leads Foundation, Chamber of Thrift Banks, CIBI Foundation, European Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Philippines, Investment House Association of the Philippines, IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Intellectual Property Association of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines, Money Market Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Nordic Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines, Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, Philippine Life Insurance Association, Procurement and Supply Institute of Asia, Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines, Spanish Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries Philippines, and Tax Management Association of the Philippines.

According to the latest data from the National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, 33.8 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated, while 42.6 million are partially vaccinated. Among the country’s 17 regions, the NCR has the highest vaccination rate at 93%.

From Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, the Department of Health will conduct a nationwide simultaneous inoculation drive to administer 15 million doses during the three-day period. This would help achieve the government’s target of 54 million fully vaccinated Filipinos by the end of 2021.

J. Albert Gamboa is a Life Member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is the Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly FINEX Digest magazine and the monthly FINEX Focus newsletter. The opinion expressed herein does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and the Manila Bulletin.